British police staff 'working as vicars and pole dancers'

More than 23,000 British police officers and staff earn a second income from non-police work, a rise of nearly 20 percent in a year, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Second job titles include vicar, pole-dancing teacher, pallbearer, ski instructor, ice-cream salesman and medium, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The newspaper cited figures from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, an independent police watchdog, showing that 23,043 police staff had second jobs out of a workforce of 201,575 in May 2012.

Figures released by London's Metropolitan Police showed that the force included 104 part-time photographers, 60 entertainers including magicians, and 23 hair and beauty therapists.

Police staff are allowed to run companies or take second jobs if permitted by their superiors.

But 23 of Britain's 44 forces did not check whether they were paying for services delivered by companies run by their own officers, raising concerns of possible conflict of interest, the Mail claimed.

Keith Vaz, chairman of parliament's Home Affairs Committee, said the committee would look into the second job policy.

"I am very surprised by the large number of police with second jobs," he said.

"It would be quite wrong if chief constables are turning a blind eye to this. Second jobs should not create a conflict of interest or result in police neglecting their duties in protecting the public and catching criminals."

Steve Williams, acting chairman of the Police Federation union, said underpaid officers were being forced to moonlight in order to make ends meet.

"I’m afraid it’s a sign of the times," he said. "In an ideal world they wouldn’t have to take a second job because it’s hard enough being a police officer."

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