UK

Only one in 10 police officers 'would recommend job'

Police officers in high-visibility coats Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption More than 70% of officers said their "personal morale" was low

Only one in 10 police officers would recommend the job to other people, a Police Federation survey suggests.

The survey of 35,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales found that 70% said their "personal morale" was low, compared with 59% last year.

The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it showed the "parlous state" of morale.

The Home Office said policing was a stressful and demanding job but it was still an attractive career choice.

The Police Federation's pay and morale survey also found:

  • A small minority of officers (9%) felt valued
  • One in six (16%) were looking for other jobs or planning to leave within the next two years, with officers citing low morale and impact on health and life as major factors
  • Nearly all (96%) of those officers planning to leave also cited "how the police as a whole are treated" as having an effect
  • Of those planning to leave, 79% said the perception was that there were better job opportunities outside the police

But 53% said they were willing to go the extra mile for the police and 78% said they could count on their colleagues for friendship and support when needed.

Police Federation chairman Steve White said the findings should "sound a warning" to those in charge.

"Despite the extreme pressures the service is under, it is heartening that the majority of officers state they will still go the extra mile to protect the public from harm and that the police family is very much intact through the support officers provide each other," he added.

Bryan, a serving police officer from London, contacted the BBC to say he would be quitting the force as soon as he could.

"I had planned to complete 30 years," he said. "But due to low morale and the fact of pension changes, working conditions, unable to get time off and so on, I am leaving next month after 25 years service and reaching 55 years of age.

"This is my earliest opportunity to go. And trust me I'm going. Experienced officers are leaving in large numbers. New officers will treat this like any other job and leave after a short time."

'Stressful and traumatic'

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers, said working in the police service could be extremely rewarding but extremely difficult.

Chief Constable Giles York, the NPCC's workforce lead, said it was "not surprising" morale was low among some workers amid budget cuts and because of the "stressful and traumatic" nature of the job.

"Our staff are doing a magnificent job and victim satisfaction and public confidence in policing are being maintained. Police leaders recognise the pressures for their staff and are committed to improving their welfare and well being," she said.

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said sickness and stress levels were higher than ever.

He said: "Sadly many of those who have devoted their life to protecting the public are now leaving in despair both because the police service is suffering the biggest cuts of any in Europe and because of the way that the police service has been treated by [Home Secretary] Theresa May."

Policing minister Mike Penning said: "Officers will continue to retire earlier than most public servants and pensions will continue to be among the best available.

"These are just two of the reasons that voluntary resignations have remained at just 2% or less in recent years - far lower than other workforces in both the public and private sectors.

"This government has made it easier for the police to do their job by cutting red tape, scrapping unnecessary targets, and giving officers the discretion to use their professional judgement."

The survey ran from April to June and used the responses of more than 32,500 officers - or just over a quarter (28%) of federated officers.

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