16 February 2022
A devastating national survey of police officers by the Police Federation has uncovered that morale in Derbyshire is the lowest in all forces in England and Wales.
The annual pay and morale survey, which was carried out in November, gathered candid responses from 372 rank and file officers in Derbyshire (20 per cent) asking about their wellbeing and whether they feel they are fairly paid or appreciated for the job they do.
In Derbyshire 67 per cent of the officers who responded said their morale was low, compared to the national average of 58 per cent. An astonishing 91 per cent of Derbyshire officers felt that morale throughout the Force was low or very low. The national figure was 63 per cent.
In addition, 76 per cent of Derbyshire officers are unsatisfied with their basic pay and allowances and 42 per cent worry about their personal finances nearly every day.
The study also found that 74 per cent feel worse off financially than they were five years ago and seven per cent are routinely struggling to afford their essentials.
This comes after 12 years of pay caps and freezes, including a zero per cent pay rise last year as a poor reward for officers stepping up during the pandemic. Police officers were also refused any priority in the roll-out of the Covid vaccine despite facing the threat of infection on the frontline. This resulted in the Federation declaring it had no confidence in the Home Secretary.
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said: “The survey results announced this morning come as no surprise to police officers up and down the country and demonstrate just how bad things are for my colleagues at the moment. It feels like policing is at breaking point, and it is unforgiveable for officers to be scrimping and saving so their families can make ends meet.
“Police officers have now made it crystal clear that they feel undervalued by this Government, and this negligent attitude towards pay and funding is having a devastating effect on morale and that could impact on the service’s capability for decades to come.
“There is evidently a growing crisis in the wellbeing and mental health of our colleagues, linked to the stresses of the job, the feeling of being under-appreciated by Government, and diminishing pay packets. I urge the Home Secretary and others to work with the Federation to address the crisis through better pay and a new focus on the wellbeing of colleagues.
“Here in Derbyshire we have to recognise that there are also some local issues that have impacted on officer morale to an even greater extent than in other forces. As a Federation, we have raised many of these issues with the chief officer team throughout the last year.
“These issues included stress, concerns about their safety in terms of numbers on shifts, high demand and huge workloads, and some issues around communication, culture and visibility. The chief officers were very receptive and responsive to what we, as Derbyshire Police Federation, were telling them and there is now much work underway to address those issues and ensure that lessons are learned.”
Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “Policing has been a tough two years for everyone, and the pay freeze was hugely disappointing when officers and staff have carried on and continued to serve the public, putting themselves at risk during the height of a pandemic in circumstances never seen before in our lifetimes.
“In Derbyshire we know demand and resourcing is having a significant impact on morale as well as culture, communication and visibility, which has also been impacted by Covid. We are working closely with the Federation and the workforce to address some of the issues causing morale to be low, and we are committed to improve working conditions and wellbeing.”
In total, 29,587 officers responded to the survey across the 43 English and Welsh forces, with 95 per cent saying their treatment by the Government had a negative impact on their morale, and 93 per cent stating they do not feel respected.
In addition, 12 per cent said they intended to resign in the next two years – which was higher in Derbyshire, at 15 per cent of respondents.
The negative impact on the morale of police officers is also caused by the way they are treated by members of the public, the survey found.
“I suspect this is partly due to the rising number of assaults on officers and the weaponising of Covid-19 by people spitting or coughing over officers while claiming to have the virus but also due to what seems to be a barrage of criticism in the media. The seemingly constant negative media narrative towards policing does not reflect the experience of police officers when engaging with the public, who are overwhelmingly supportive of their officers,” Tony explains.