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Officers “leaving the service in their droves” warns Fed Chair

The latest Pay and Morale survey has shown that 18% of respondents intend to resign either within two years or as soon as they can.

With almost one in five officers saying they are intending to resign within the next two years or sooner, Fed Chair Steven Hartshorn has warned that officers are “reaching breaking point”.

“Every element of their pay and conditions has been gradually eroded in the space of a decade,” he said.

“We are losing some exceptional officers simply because they cannot afford to stay in the service, with an alarming number unable to afford monthly essentials.”

Results from the Federation's annual Pay and Morale survey indicate that the top three reasons for officers wanting to leave were; morale, how the police are treated by the government and pay (at 98%, 96% and 95% respectively).

8,117 (FTE) offices left in the year to March 2022 – the highest figure since comparable records have been collated (2003). The latest Uplift resignation figure stands at 1,800.

36,669 officers responded to this year’s survey and it was the first time it had been combined with the Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey. The latter was first launched in 2016 following “unprecedented budgetary cuts”.

The Fed says this shines a light on some non-pay related concerns affecting police morale including resourcing and assaults.

88% of respondents reported that they did not feel there are enough officers to meet the demands of their team or unit, and 66% said that over the last 12 months their workload was “too high” or “much too high”.

86% ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ that the way officer staffing levels are determined is effective – with the most common reason for working overtime being that “there weren’t enough officers on shift on my team/unit”.

Meanwhile, a large number of officers continue to report that they are verbally or physically assaulted on a weekly basis.  

37% respondents said they had experiences verbal insults at least once a week over the last 12 months and 11% experienced unarmed physical attacks.

Only a quarter, however, reported having access to double crewing at all times when on duty and fewer respondents are now saying their force requires Officer Safety Training/Personal Safety Training every year (91% where it was 95% in 2021).

The Federation has said that officers are suffering a real terms pay cut of more than 20% compared with  2010 – officers at the bottom of the pay scale hav seen a drop of 30.1%.

Mr Hartshorn said: “Many [of our officers] have stopped expecting any recognition from the Government for their unique responsibilities and the restrictions imposed on their industrial rights which is, quite frankly, dangerous.

“Being able to protect the public effectively, rests on a knife edge. Without sufficient investment in policing, we will see a further detrimental rise in resignations, and officers will not be able to keep up with the new technology innovations criminals use, will not be able to stretch resources to attend all crimes, and, ultimately, will not be able to keep our communities safe from the rise in violent crime.”

Asking for a pay award that acknowledges the cost-of-living crisis and unique responsibilities that come with the role, Mr Hartshorn said: “It is paramount the service is provided with long-term investment, instead of single-year settlements to future-proof the service. The Government must listen and not ignore the needs of the service because they do not have the right to strike.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Policing is a career like no other and we need officers to keep communities safe and cut crime. We are injecting record funds into policing and giving officers the support, training and powers they need to crack down on crime.

“The Government remains on track to deliver its pledge to recruit 20,000 police officers by March 2023. The overwhelming majority of new recruits recently surveyed report positive job satisfaction and want to remain officers for the rest of their working lives.”

See news comment 'Policing rests on a knife edge'

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