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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Herts morale lowest in the country, Federation survey reveals

2 December 2020

Hertfordshire officers have recorded the lowest levels of personal morale in a national survey.

A total of 56 per cent of Hertfordshire respondents in the annual national Federation pay and morale survey said their morale was low or very low, the highest figure in the 43 police forces in England and Wales. The national average was 48 per cent.

In addition, 74 per cent of Hertfordshire officers who responded to the survey felt morale in the force was low or very low. Nationally, it was 75 per cent.

The reasons given for low morale included how the police are treated (92 per cent), pay and benefits, including pension (81 per cent), workload and responsibilities (72 per cent) and the police pension (70 per cent).

Some 16 per cent of officers said they intended to leave Hertfordshire Constabulary in the next two years or so, the highest figure in the country.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for everyone,” said Geoff Bardell, chair of Hertfordshire Police Federation, “My colleagues have had to continue to deal with their own jobs while being on the frontline of policing the pandemic and coping with continually changing and evolving rules and guidance.

“They’ve had coronavirus weaponised against them in some cases, in others they’ve been criticised for the way they’ve policed situations, all while they have their own worries and concerns, not least taking this deadly virus home to loved ones.

“The virus is taking its toll on officers, and it is seriously concerning when morale in our Force is the lowest in the country. The fact we have the highest number of officers in the country intending to leave is also a huge concern.

“And all this before we take into account the Government’s plan to freeze public sector pay, including that of police officers, which will hit morale further.

“This report should act as a wake-up call.”

Geoff has also shared the survey’s findings with the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Federation will be meeting with the Chief Constable soon to discuss the report further, particularly around Hertfordshire’s comparisons with other forces.

In addition to the findings on morale, the survey revealed 91 per cent of Hertfordshire Police Federation members feel they’re not paid fairly for the stresses of the job. The national average is 86 per cent.

The survey also found that 79 per cent of Hertfordshire Police Federation members don’t feel fairly paid for the hazard faced in their job, against a national figure of 77 per cent.

The Police Federation of England and Wales survey was carried out across all 43 forces in England and Wales giving more than 130,000 Federation members their first opportunity to provide detailed feedback on how policing the pandemic had affected their finances and wellbeing.

Other key findings in Hertfordshire were:

Covid-19

  • 56 per cent of respondents said the Force managed officers well during the Covid-19 crisis; the national average was 49 per cent
  • 83 per cent felt the Force kept them up to date on Covid-19 guidance;  nationally it was 78 per cent
  • Half of respondents felt they’d received adequate training on the crisis from the Force, against a national figure of 41 per cent
  • 62 per cent reported having access to adequate PPE when necessary during the pandemic, which was 14 per cent higher than the national average.

Recruitment drive

  • Around one third (32 per cent) felt the Force would be able to recruit the number of officers allocated to Hertfordshire as part of the Government’s plans to boost officer numbers by 20,000 over a three-year programme.

Pay and remuneration

  • 77 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their overall remuneration, including pay and allowances
  • 42 per cent worried about the state of their finances daily or almost daily, higher than the national figure of 37 per cent
  • Two thirds (67 per cent) felt they were worse off financially than they were five years ago, the second highest figure behind the Met
  • 10 per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their essentials.

Attitudes towards the police

  • Three out of five respondents (59 per cent) said they did not feel valued in the police and almost two-fifths (39 per cent) felt they weren’t treated fairly
  • 64 per cent said they wouldn’t recommend joining the police to others, the fourth highest figure in the country.

The survey was compiled by the national Federation’s research and policy department, which plays a vital part in providing strategically important evidence to achieve better pay and conditions for members.

It generated more than 25,000 responses which is around 20 per cent of all Federated rank officers across England and Wales.

National Federation chair John Apter said: “These results should give serious concern to chief constables and to Government. The low morale reported by officers comes as no surprise, but the police service needs to take its head out of the sand and acknowledge we have a serious issue.

“My colleagues take the time to fill in these surveys and give their honest views, so it would be a failing by police leaders to ignore what is being said.

“This year, more than ever, officers have been put under significant pressure, dealing with the day job as well as policing the constantly changing Covid rules.

“Despite doing their very best, they have been turned into the villains of this pandemic by some, damned whatever they do; and this constant criticism takes its toll.

“While it might come as a surprise to some, police officers are human beings; they have their own worries about the virus and the fear that they take it home to their families.

“I accept that the wellbeing of police officers is considered more now than it has ever been in the past, there is some good work going on in some forces, but the benefits of this good work are still not being felt by all of our members and that is a serious issue.

“This must be seen for what it is, a cry for help from police officers who need to ensure their voice is heard. If these results are ignored by police leaders, then this will be a failing that will be unforgivable.”

Read the full report.