South Yorkshire Police staff morale low, survey finds
Morale within South Yorkshire Police is falling, according to an internal staff survey.
In figures disclosed after a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC, more than 1,200 staff said morale at work was "low" or "very low".
The survey was conducted in March, six months before a damning report into South Yorkshire Police failings over the Hillsborough disaster.
The force said it was working with staff to tackle the issues raised.
South Yorkshire Police said 43% of its 5,771 employees responded to the survey.
Staff were asked to rate their level of morale at work, and of the 2,480 that responded, 35% said it was "low" and 23.8% said "very low". Nineteen percent of staff said it was more than "high".
A staff survey will always reveal grumbles at work but when 73% of those filling one in say morale is going down, it is time to listen.
South Yorkshire Police is worried enough to organise special workshops with staff to see if the problem can be solved.
But those representing them suggest the force cannot do much about it. The Police Federation put it down to cuts in police funding and changes to pensions; all external decisions.
This survey was carried out before the recent revelations about Hillsborough and you can safely say that the findings of the Independent Panel will not have improved the mood under the blue lights inside South Yorkshire's patrol cars.
When a football manager starts in a new dressing room, morale is often the first thing to sort out. A Police Commissioner is more of a chairman, removed from the day-to-day. So the question is: can South Yorkshire's new PCC turn their team around?
When staff were asked whether morale at work had changed over the past year, 73.6% - about 2,400 - of staff agreed with the statement, "yes, it has gone down".
Assistant Chief Officer Ian Watson said: "The force is operating in an environment where, even though we are doing everything possible to protect frontline services, cutbacks and significant changes to services are the reality.
"The service faces some of the biggest national changes in its history around terms and conditions and pensions.
"Clearly, even in the best run forces, this all impacts on staff morale."
Neil Bowles, chair of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, said he was not surprised by the survey results.
"The latest figures from the force prove the point of something we've been saying for a long time: nobody seems to care about policing."
In September, the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed 164 police statements had been altered - 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Sheffield stadium.
Mr Bowles said the panel's report would have a "knock-on effect to the people in the organisation".
Mr Watson said focus groups involving 140 staff members had been held to "to explore the issues further and plans are being drawn up to tackle the issues raised by staff to help improve morale, such as communication and health and wellbeing".