Police officers have grown more demoralised as they feel “undervalued and under pressure”, a survey by the Police Federation has found, amid stagnant pay and higher demand.
Nearly two thirds - 60.2 percent - of the 30,000 officers surveyed rate their morale as poor and cited poor work-life balance and increased workloads as the reasons. This was four percent more than last year.
A total of 72 percent said their workload had increased in the last year while 62 percent said theirs was too high. A total of 72 percent also said they weren’t satisfied with their pay, up from 66 percent last year.
Police Federation chairman Steve White said: “Officers do a heroic job as evidenced by the events of the past year, yet they feel undervalued and under pressure...
“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 total number of participants in the survey accounts for a quarter of all the “federated” officers - those between constable and chief inspector.
The same survey revealed last month that one in ten officers struggles to pay for essentials. This rises to one in six among probationers in their first two years of service.
White said: “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% since 2010. If the pay cap was to continue for another four years, that would represent a 23% overall drop. No wonder officers are demoralised and despondent.”
Chief Superintendent John Sutherland, who wrote a book about how 20 years of policing hurt his mental health, told HuffPost UK last month that his colleagues were under the most strain he had ever seen in light of cuts, terror attacks and rising expectations.
“The survey is important - and the results are extremely sobering. As a society and as a service, we need to read the signs,” he told HuffPost UK.
“All of that said, police officers continue to do an extraordinary job every single day - and I remain incredibly proud of them.
“It’s that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty - the willingness to go where most wouldn’t and do what most couldn’t.”
Though 70 percent of officers who responded to the survey said they wouldn’t recommend others join the police, four in five new recruits say they intend to stay in the police until they reach pension age.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Police officers across the country do a uniquely challenging and absolutely vital job keeping us safe and secure.
“It is an attractive career with competitive pay and the pension is among the best available. Job application rates are high with staff turnover and voluntary resignations remaining low compared with both the private and public sector.
“The welfare of the police workforce is of paramount importance and chief officers, supported by the College of Policing, are responsible for providing help and support so that officers can do their critical work.”