Page last updated at 22:40 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Row over second jobs for police

Police officers
Many officers have to find other sources of income, it is claimed

A political row has broken out after the Conservatives said they would consider preventing police officers from having second jobs.

Shadow police minister David Ruffley said it was "hard to see" justification for police doing supplementary work.

But police minister Vernon Coaker said many Tory frontbenchers had other jobs.

Research found that more than 4,000 officers were registered as having second jobs. The Home Office said anyone doing so must have permission.

Economic pressure

A survey by Police Review magazine of 29 forces across the UK showed that 4,395 officers had reported having second jobs.

The officers are not taking on these extra jobs because they want to - they do it because they have to
Simon Reed, Police Association of England and Wales

These ranged from letting property to driving, building, lecturing, sports coaching and animal husbandry.

According to the survey, the Metropolitan Police had the largest number of second jobs with 578 officers topping up their income from policing in some way.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said it was a sign of the tough economic climate that this was necessary.

"The officers are not taking on these extra jobs because they want to - they do it because they have to," said Simon Reed, the organisation's vice-chairman.

But the Conservatives said there would be "few circumstances" in which such behaviour could be justified.

"I know in a dire economic climate quite a few people work two jobs," Mr Ruffley said.

"But the prime responsibility of an officer of the law is to have all their focus and attention on serving. It is hard to see what circumstances would justify having more than one job."

Available for duty

The Home Office said police pay was "competitive" and officers could only do other work if approved by their superiors.

"This is an operational decision for individual forces and officers must be available for duty when required," a spokesman said.

The police agreed a three-year pay settlement last October giving them an average annual rise of 2.6%.

Police minister Vernon Coaker accused Mr Ruffley and other Conservatives of double standards, saying many on their frontbench had "well-paid jobs" in addition to being MPs.

"It is no wonder the Tories have nothing to say on the economy when so many of their top team are part-timers."

The number of outside directorships held by shadow cabinet members has reportedly caused unease within the party at a time when thousands of people are losing their jobs.

But shadow foreign secretary William Hague said recently that his colleagues were extremely hard-working, adding that outside interests had made him a more effective politician.

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