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Police officers moonlighting as mechanics and chimney sweeps

Freedom of information requests to every force in England reveal on average 13 per cent of officers in each force have registered business interests

The sheer diversity of police officers' secondary employment can be revealed today as Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to every force in England show on average 13 per cent of officers have second jobs.

The list of paid work undertaken by officers in their spare time makes for interesting and at times surprising reading, with jobs ranging from male modelling to pie making.

Official registers of business interests in Humberside alone reveal that one PC drives a taxi in their spare time while another works in a mini mart.

Three Humberside officers are chimney sweeps, while another lists their business interests as "employment in Ukraine".

Elsewhere, officers are moonlighting as receptionists and dog groomers as well as tattoo artists and yoga teachers, while others are apparently pulling pints in bars to supplement their police salaries.

In Leicestershire one officer is involved in running an online war game store, while another does "ad hoc" work for the Swedish police.

In Kent several officers undertake paid work as writers and there are a number of part time mechanics and electricians serving as warranted police officers in the force.

And two officers - in Surrey and Derbyshire respectively - list hog roast catering as an outside business interest.

Top of the table in terms of the proportion of officers who also have other jobs was Suffolk Constabulary, whose FoI department stated that 361 officers in that force have a declared business interest - amounting to nearly nearly 30 per cent.

The figure seems unusually high for such a small force, and the local Fed pointed out that the FoI team may have mistakenly included police staff in the equation.

Northamptonshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police were also high up on the list, with the proportion of officers who have declared outside employment reaching around the 20 per cent mark in each force area.

Phill Matthews, from Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said he suspected the number of officers taking on other work was rising, adding that there was a desire among officers to "declare everything" so as to be above any reproach.

He said: "I know an officer who is involved in a local Campaign for Real Ale group. That basically involves going to a local pub, and that's declared as a business interest."

He also said there may be "rising interest among officers in having outside business interests because they don't see a future in policing anymore."

Cheshire Constabulary came bottom, with only around 1 per cent apparently declaring a business interest.

Pinpointing accurate figures for exactly how many police officers in each force area in England have declared other work is difficult because the way forces present such data varies dramatically.

This means some entries on the list compiled by PoliceOracle.com are based on the best available estimate.

As well as jobs per se, business interests can include rental income from property as well as stocks and shares and the like.

Many officers opt to declare voluntary work too.

Retired police officer Chris Hobbs said reductions in salaries paid to officers may mean some feel the need to try and earn extra cash outside of their day jobs.

Mr Hobbs, who served with the Met - where around 7 per cent of officers undertake outside employment - said: "When you look at the salaries young officers are on, it's pretty poor.

"I think I can safely say there is a real issue, especially around London, in terms of rental and property prices, and it's just going to become an increasing trend, if police forces permit it, for officers who are struggling to make ends meet to take on other work."

He added that the range of different types of jobs done by officers was testament to their diverse skill sets.

"It's very easy to just stereotype police officers as having a certain image or being of a certain type," he said. "What this shows is what a diverse and talented bunch police officers are - and that can only be a good thing for the police."

PC Tony Tester, who serves with Dorset Police and is the chairman of the county's Fed, said the relatively high proportion of officers in his force area who also have other jobs - 17 per cent - might be indicative of the vibrant tourist economy locally.

PC Tester, who himself has an extra income stream thanks to occasional work as a powerboat instructor, said: "What would be interesting would be to know how many police officers who have a registered business interest decide policing is no longer for them and develop their interests and move on."

He added that forces keep tabs on how many hours officers are working outside of their day jobs in the police so as to ensure they are not too tired or distracted.

Of the 39 forces across England, only one - City of London Police - did not respond to PoliceOracle.com's Freedom of Information request.

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