Cumbria Police Federation

Pay and Morale Survey reveals how police officers are struggling

20 March 2024

More than one in five police officers are planning on quitting the police service, with a staggering 78 per cent highlighting poor government treatment as a contributing factor.

Stark findings from the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Pay and Morale Survey 2023, published today [20 March], revealed 22 per cent of respondents expressed intentions to resign within the next two years or as soon as possible.

The revelation comes as concerns mount over the service’s inability to retain. Over 9,000 officers resigned in the year ending March 2023 - the highest number of leavers in a financial year since comparable records began.

Low morale (85 per cent), mental health and wellbeing (73 per cent) were also significant factors tied to wanting to resign.

More than half (58 per cent) of respondents feel their morale is ‘low’ or ‘very low’, while 87 per cent feel morale within their force is currently ‘low’ or ‘very low’.

More than two-thirds (82 per cent) indicated they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other problems with their mental health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.

Other findings include:
• 95 per cent said how the police are treated by the Government had a negative impact on their morale.
• 81 per cent said their pay had a negative impact on their morale.
• 73 per cent said they would not recommend joining the police to others.
• 71 per cent said they did not feel valued within the police.
• 92 per cent of respondents feel they are not fairly paid given the stresses and strains of their job.
• 86 per cent said they do not feel there are enough officers to meet the demands of their team or unit.
• 64 per cent said their workload has been ‘too high’ or ‘much too high’ over the last 12 months.
• 39 per cent said their workload being too high had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

Ed Russell, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “The results ought to be a wakeup call to a Government seemingly bent on penny pinching with public services, stretching them to breaking point through underfunding and political meddling.

“These findings are the unbiased voices of front-line policing, expressed without fear or favour, and they are deeply concerning. These are the view of the men and women who put on their uniforms up and down the country before heading out into our communities to face abuse, violence and the most harrowing of situations.

“The results show increased assaults on officers, failing morale, unsustainable workloads, a lack of compassion for colleagues and spiralling mental health concerns, a bleak picture of modern policing.

“1 in 5 officers are looking for alternative employment and intent to leave the service within the next 2 years; and last year the number of officers leaving through voluntary resignation outstripped retirement for the first time since records began, this year looks set to follow suit.

“Officers don’t want this, and the public don’t deserve it. 86% of respondents feel that there are insufficient officers to meet demands putting themselves and the public at risk.

“The Government need to listen to senior police leaders like the recent call from Sir Mark Rowley regarding pay and conditions to ensure we can attract and retain the very best candidates and grow our numbers in line with the country’s population and demand. Public confidence is waning, police confidence is waning, and it won’t be fixed through underfunding and empty rhetoric.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is insisting the Government to take into account the restrictions and limitations put on police officers, the risks they face on a day-to-day basis and for pay to compensate this as part of its ongoing fair pay campaign.

The vast majority of respondents (85 per cent) feel they are not fairly paid given the hazards they face within their job, up from 78 per cent in 2018. In fact, more than 1 in 10 (15 per cent) of respondents reported they had suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention because of work-related violence in the last year.

Three quarters (78 per cent) of police officers disclosed they are ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their overall remuneration (including basic pay and allowances), while 18 per cent reported ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ having enough money to cover all their essentials.

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “The growing evidence we have reveals a sad and shameful state of affairs; the work of police officers is depreciated by the Government, not only that, but my colleagues who protect the public around the clock in an increasingly dangerous profession, are feeling devalued by the Government.

“It is unsurprising thousands of police officers are looking to resign and would not recommend joining the service to others when their pay has been eroded over the years and fails to keep up with other public sector workers.

“Analysis of ONS earnings data shows police officer pay rose by 40 per cent between 2000 and 2023, however other public sector workers have seen their salaries increase by 98 per cent, not to mention MPs seeing an increase of 79 per cent.”