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Hampshire Police Federation

Influx of new police officers is leaving Sergeants with greater workloads, demand and stress

5 February 2021

The influx of thousands of new police officers has left serving Sergeants with greater workloads, demands and more stress at work, a new report has found.

The Police Federation of England and Wales report, "The Demand Capacity & Welfare Survey 2020 - The Officer Uplift and Sergeant Impacts", found that more than half of sergeants felt they had insufficient time and resources to support new Constables.

Under the Government's "Uplift" programme, 20,000 new police officers are to be recruited by March 2023, taking the service back to the numbers of officers it had a decade ago.

This recruitment drive will see many Sergeants having more inexperienced PCs to supervise than ever before, with more than 6,600 officers recruited as part of that 20,000 over the past year.

The new PFEW research lays bare the impact of this flood of rookie recruits.

Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: "Supervising new officers is a challenge and does create additional work for sergeants, however, this is a temporary problem for some real long term benefits.

"The police force has suffered such severe cuts that if recruitment remained in small numbers, we will never get back to the numbers needed. All we would be doing is replacing officers lost through natural wastage. The training the new officers are getting is new and different (and hampered by COVID). Time will tell if it is adequate or needs changing.

"We have many excellent tutors/coaches/mentors and good sergeants who want to see these new students succeed. We are however seeing the average length of service on our response and patrol teams decline rapidly. This is a concern particularly as statistically you are more likely to be assaulted if you are younger in service.

"The next few years are going to be tough for our frontline sergeants and Inspectors. They need to remember that the Federation is here to support them as well as their team and they shouldn't hesitate is coming to us for support."

32% of Sergeant respondents to the PFEW research are concerned they will be overseeing a high number of inexperienced recruits.

54% said it was unlikely or extremely unlikely that they will have enough time and resources to manage this increase in their shift management responsibilities.

And 49% said they did not believe their force will have enough Sergeants or line managers to supervise the new recruits.

One sergeant told the survey: "We don't have the time to train and mentor new officers. Their foundation training is not good enough, even worse now with Covid. Probationers are left to train other probationers. We can't effectively supervise the officers we already have."

Another said: "A few years ago, response sergeants were a 1:7 ratio, now they're 1:10, this will only increase with the uplift. There will need to be more sergeants as 1:10 is already too many."

Over 1,000 Sergeants responded to the survey. Many comments indicated that inadequate training for the new recruits had led to additional burdens being placed on Sergeants and tutor constables, and some Sergeants highlighted that the sudden influx of inexperienced officers could pose a risk to officer safety.

Others raised issues about limited resources; such as a lack of facilities, equipment and space for the new recruits to use, whilst others raised concerns over the general impact of the officer uplift on sergeant workloads and negative consequences on their wellbeing.

Dave Bamber, PFEW'S Professional Development Lead, said: "All too often the organization is happy to assess sergeants but not develop them. This influx of younger, more inexperienced officers will put pressure on staff to supervise them when they haven't had the additional training they need to do this. Added to this, the recruits' lack of experience means that more supervision will be needed."

To read the survey in full, go to: https://www.polfed.org/media/16560/dcw_sergeants-report-20-01-21-v10.pdf