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Morale continues to fall as stress grows and pay dwindles

More than 70 per cent of officers surveyed unhappy with their total pay package
Published - 29/08/2017 By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle

The way police officers are treated is the biggest contributory factor in plummeting morale.

With demand growing and the impact of government cuts continuing to overstretch police forces, almost two thirds (60.2 per cent) say their personal morale is low.

This was nearly five per cent more than last year with 85 per cent blaming it on the way police as a whole are treated.

The findings are revealed in the annual Pay and Morale Survey undertaken by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW). More than 30,000 officers, equivalent to 25 per cent of all federated ranks, took part.

Other headline statistics from the survey include:

  • 72 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their total pay package (compared with 66.7 last year) – this is the highest level since the survey began.
  • 72.5 per cent felt financially worse off now than they did five years ago.
  • 86.5 per cent did not feel fairly paid considering the stresses and strains of their job.
  • Over two thirds (72.2 per cent) reported an increase in their workload in the last 12 months, with 62.2 per cent saying it was too high.

Respondents increasingly said their morale had been negatively affected by their work-life balance, their health and wellbeing, workload and responsibilities and their day-to-day job role.

Steve White, PFEW Chairman said: “Officers do a heroic job as evidenced by the events of the past year, yet they feel undervalued and under pressure. We know that officers enjoy tremendous support from the British public as a whole, which is a source of enormous pride for them. But something has to give, and unfortunately the evidence shows that it is these officers’ personal welfare, as they struggle to meet rising demand with dwindling resources and 21,000 officers fewer than 2010.”

The survey found more than one in ten officers cannot afford essentials – and that figure rises to around one in six for probationers.

Mr White added: “At a time when we have never needed the police more, with heightened threats almost weekly, we have many officers who are finding it hard to put food on the table for their families and are resorting to welfare schemes. In real terms, pay has dropped by around 15 per cent since 2010. If the pay cap was to continue for another four years, that would represent a 23 per cent overall drop. No wonder officers are demoralised and despondent.”

While the survey revealed a small  increase in those who said they were proud to be in the police (65 per cent compared with 61), once again over two thirds (70.4 per cent) would not recommend joining the police.

There was also a small increase in the number planning to leave the service either as soon as possible or within the next two years (12.3 per cent compared to 11.8 per cent).

Mr White said: “Policing has always adapted to changing demands. But the struggle to meet these demands in recent years has changed the outlook for many officers. It is encouraging to see that – in another recent PFEW survey - four in five new recruits (83.3 per cent) say they intend to stay in the police service until pension age, but the challenge is now supporting and nurturing that enthusiasm so they feel motivated to continue with their chosen career in the years to come.”

For the first time ever, the survey also asked for officers’ views on recent professional development initiatives, including Direct Entry schemes. More than three quarters said that the schemes at chief constable, superintendent or inspector levels would have a negative impact upon policing.

Mr White added: “The survey is an important source of evidence to help understand the impact that changes in pay and conditions have on our members. Well, the message couldn’t be clearer: Our members are feeling the strain and want to feel valued and be adequately remunerated. Every police force, HMIC and the College of Policing must now place greater emphasis on working together to improve police officer morale, welfare and wellbeing before it is too late.”

The survey results will be used as evidence in PFEW’s submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body at the end of the year, as well as providing information to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC), the College of Policing, the Home Office, politicians and other stakeholders to open debate, contribute to consultations and reflect members’ views on a range of topics.

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