Police Federation

Pay and Morale Survey finds policing rests on a knife edge

Future of the police service ‘rests on a knife edge’ as thousands of disillusioned rank and file police officers respond to the latest Pay and Morale Survey.

11 January 2023


The Police Federation of England and Wales’s (PFEW) Pay and Morale Survey 2022 has revealed severe struggles faced by rank and file officers and a sense of deepening frustration with the Government for continuously failing to assist.

The survey found 9 in 10 police officers feel financially worse off than they were five years ago and nearly one in five officers plan on handing in their resignation as soon as possible or within the next two years due to reasons including unfair pay.

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “Police officers are reaching breaking point and are leaving the service in their droves as every element of their pay and conditions has been gradually eroded in the space of a decade.

“Record numbers are resigning over inadequate pay and conditions. We are losing some exceptional officers simply because they cannot afford to stay in the service with an alarming number unable to afford monthly essentials.

“The latest figures indicate 8,117 (FTE) police officers left the service in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022 – the highest number of leavers since comparable records began, and at least 1,800 of those officers who joined under the Government Uplift Programme have already voluntarily resigned.”

According to the survey, the most frequently cited reasons respondents gave for intending to quit were morale (98 per cent), how the police are treated by the Government (96 per cent) and pay (95 per cent).

The vast majority (83 per cent) of police officers disclosed they are ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their overall remuneration (including basic pay and allowances), while nearly one in five (19 per cent) of respondents reported ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ having enough money to cover all their essentials.

Of 36,669 officers who responded, 95 per cent said their treatment by the Government harmed their morale with 87 per cent saying the same for pay.

More than nine in 10 respondents (94 per cent) stated they did not feel respected by the Government, and three-quarters (70 per cent) said they would not recommend joining the police service to others.

The number of officers who feel unfairly paid given the dangers and demands of the job has also hit a record high.

An overwhelming majority (94 per cent) stated they are not paid fairly for the stresses and strains of the job, while 88 per cent said they are not paid fairly considering the hazards they face in the line of duty, the highest levels reported since the first survey was undertaken in 2018.

Almost one in five (18 per cent) reported they had suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention as a result of work-related violence in the last year.

In the year ending March 2022, there were 41,221 assaults on police officers, up from 36,969 the previous year, leading to unprecedented levels of mental exhaustion and mental ill-health within the police service. This amounts to more than 110 assaults per day, every day of the year.

Mr Hartshorn continued: “We asked our members what they think and the results of our survey clearly illustrate the anger and disillusionment of police officers across England and Wales. Many have stopped expecting any recognition from the Government for their unique responsibilities and the restrictions imposed on their industrial rights, which, quite frankly dangerous.

“Being able to protect the public effectively, rests on a knife edge. Without sufficient investment in policing, we will see a further detrimental rise in resignations, and officers will not be able to keep up with the new technology innovations criminals use, will not be able to stretch resources to attend all crimes, and, ultimately, will not be able to keep our communities safe from the rise in violent crime.

The 2022 survey found an alarming number of respondents (88 per cent) did not feel they had enough officers to manage the demands being made on them as a team or unit. Highlighting issues of increased, overwhelming workloads and dangerous single crewing.

The compelling findings have also illustrated a growing crisis of the wellbeing and mental health of police officers, with more than eight out of 10 (82 per cent) indicating they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months, representing another increase in comparative figures.

Reiterating PFEW’s constant appeals for long-term investment in policing, Mr Hartshorn said: “It is paramount the service is provided with long-term investment, instead of single-year settlements to future-proof the service. The Government must listen and not ignore the needs of the service because they do not have the right to strike.

“To rebuild the broken thin blue line, police officers need a pay award that acknowledges the cost-of-living crisis, their unique responsibilities and the restrictions imposed on their industrial rights. Otherwise, the profession will remain at risk and the disillusionment of our colleagues will deepen, the Government must act.”

The national survey ran between September and October 2022 and 36,669 rank and file police officers took part. 

The crucial evidence presented by this survey supports our ongoing efforts to fight for fair pay and conditions for our members.

You can read the full headline report here and view localised force reports on the survey hub

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