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Police Morale Is A Real Issue, Home Sec Warned

Supers’ Association President calls on government for commitment to policing after warning that goodwill is being lost

Government ministers should not underestimate the feelings of police officers who feel “under attack and unjustly criticised”, the Home Secretary has been warned

In a shot across the bows of the government Ch Supt Derek Barnett, President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, told Theresa May that she should not underestimate the dwindling feeling of goodwill in the service.

But he said that the situation could be retrieved if staff associations and government worked together – and if ministers delivered “an unequivocal message” of support for policing.

Ch Supt Barnett also made it clear that the Home Secretary would need to fight the corner of the police service during the next round of public sector funding cuts.

While the experienced officer, who was speaking at the Superintendents’ Association Conference in Warwickshire, said while he was not against making efficiencies, he pointed out the reality that officers had faced a real drop in income.

He told the Home Secretary: “There is, in my view, a situation developing where there is an erosion between the Police Service and the government.

“The fundamental changes to pay and conditions of officers on top of a three-year pay freeze means that all face a real and immediate drop in income.

“Changes to pensions mean that all police officers are paying more and they have been told that they are going to have to work longer but receive less

“Thousands of staff colleagues have lost their jobs – and we have seen the perversity of Regulation A19 where we have seen hundreds of experienced and professional officers at the height of their careers being forcibly retired on reaching 30 years service, some as young as 48 years of age.”

Ch Supt Barnett added that a barrage of negative media reporting, accusing officers of being poorly educated, overweight and lazy, had compounded the situation.

He added: “To the overwhelming majority of professional, proud, industrious, honest and fit officers this has been a hugely wounding and demoralising period.

“The reality is that police officers today feel under attack and unjustly criticised. Some are resentful – and many feel they have been unfairly treated and the service as endured a disproportionate burden of the cuts to public spending.”

He warned that officers’ expectation of a fair reward for their commitment was “at risk” adding: “We cannot close our eyes to the situation we face.

“This is how many feel and the consequence we are seeing already is the loss of goodwill – the same goodwill where officers are recalled to duty and work additional long hours without claiming reward, readily accept last minute changes to shifts to fill the gaps on the street, cancelled leave and days off.

“If we lose the goodwill tradition built over many years, it will be hard to recover.”

However, he said that he did not believe the policing was broken, and called on officers who had become disillusioned and cynical “to help shape the future”.

Ch Supt Barnett concluded: “We are a great institution, one that enjoys the support and confidence of the vast majority of the public and outlives each generation of politicians.

“We embody the qualities of duty, respect, integrity, judgement and common sense and each of us has a duty to uphold the proudest traditions of our vocation.”

To view the video of the Superintendents' Association President address and the Home Secretary keynote address, click here

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