Root And Branch Review Of Policing Needed, As Officers Plan To Quit

The Government needs to do a “U-turn” in its treatment of police officers, South Yorkshire Police Federation said, as it emerged that more than one in five officers planned to quit the service.

The new Police Federation of England and Wales’ Pay and Morale Survey has revealed that low morale is impacting retention, with 22% of respondents saying they planned to resign within the next two years or “as soon as [they] can”.

Over half of respondents (58%) said they had “low” or “very low” morale. And a huge 95% of officers said that how the police were treated by the Government was having a negative effect on their morale.

Meanwhile three quarters (78%) were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their overall remuneration, and 18% reported never having enough money to cover their essentials.

Workload was a problem too, with 86% of respondents saying they didn’t feel there were enough officers to meet the demands of their team, and 33% “always” or “often” feeling pressured into working long hours.

South Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Steve Kent said there was a “horrendous feeling of poor morale” in policing and that it needed long-term investment to tackle it.

He said: “Things are getting worse in some critical areas. One in five police officers thinking of leaving policing is really scary.

“What it’s showing is that pay has not improved anywhere near enough for officers. Cops are sick to death of the constant negativity, and what I keep hearing when I talk to cops is that they feel ashamed to be a police officer, which is absolutely appalling.

“That is all adding up to this horrendous feeling of poor morale across the board, which isn’t just South Yorkshire Police, it’s everywhere. But we are one of the poorest-funded forces for our demand in the whole country, so we are probably feeling it more than most. Our officers are just fed up and this survey’s showing it.

“The only way we can improve this situation is with a U-turn, starting with Government, in the way that our police officers are treated. We need to see long-term investment in policing, because policing is still on its backside with the ongoing cuts. We need to see proper pay and remuneration for what we do. We have one of the poorest-paid police services, on average, in the whole G7. How can that be right?

“We are on the cusp of a mental health epidemic in policing. We are on the cusp of people leaving the organisation to do something better. We’re on the cusp of serious financial issues for officers. We are on the precipice with a lot of these things and it needs to be urgently addressed to stop it going over that line.”

With a national election coming up this year, Steve said that politicians needed to stop attacking policing and start supporting it, for the good of officers and the public.

He said: “I would say to politicians that they’ve got to start acting responsibly in the way they speak about policing. We’ve got to stop the fashionable attack on policing because of the actions of the tiniest minority. The actions of the 99.99% of officers who put their lives on the line every day and work unbelievably long hours need to be acknowledged.

“Politicians need to realise what chipping away at policing is actually going to do to our officers and to the public as a result. The public see that policing isn’t as effective as it used to be. We need to stop some of the bureaucracy. We need to make it all about victim satisfaction, rather than figures and statistics, because that means nothing to the public. We need a root-and-branch review of policing.”