SENIOR officers are leaving Sussex Police to become train drivers so they can double their salary.

In the last year between six and ten officers have left the force, or are in the process of leaving, to take up the job because there is little prospect of a pay rise if they stay, according to Sussex Police Federation chairman Matt Webb.

He blamed the Government, saying its unwillingness to pay officers properly was forcing the hand of chief officers and in turn seeing valuable members of staff – particularly those who are experienced and senior – embarking on a career change.

His comments come as Theresa May offered a one per cent increase and one per cent bonus for police and prison officers, breaking the ongoing public sector pay freeze.

But he branded the so-called pay rise a cut because it was below the rate of inflation which has just increased to 2.9 per cent, pushing up the cost of living.

He said: “Our officers are already struggling to make ends meet. We’ve seen a rise in the number asking for financial support just to put food on the table. They will continue to struggle with any additional unexpected expense. It will mean more will have to leave the force to look for another, better paid job.”

A pay and morale survey found 76 per cent of Sussex officers who responded were financially worse off than they were five years ago, with 48 per cent saying housing was very expensive and none saying it was affordable to live in the county, he said.

He said the money will have to come out of the force’s existing budget, cutting back on the amount of money which can be spent on equipment and resources.

He added: “This is yet more evidence this Government places no value in the service the police provide or the sacrifices officers make on a daily basis. At a time when it is abundantly clear that the service is at breaking point and officer morale is at an all-time low, its continued approach to the people who provide the day-to-day security for our nation is staggering.”

Police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said the offer went some way to acknowledging the police’s hard work but it was not the full picture and hoped more grants would be provided in December.

In the meantime she is reviewing the force’s funding reserves to see if more money can be put towards public protection, counter-terrorism and neighbourhood policing.