11 January 2023
A shocking 85% of Wiltshire Police officers feel ‘worse off’ financially now than they were five years ago, new research has found.
And 16% ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ have enough money to cover all their essentials, according to the 2022 Police Federation of England and Wales Pay and Morale Report, published this month.
More than 500 officers responded to the research, which found that a shocking 98% had seen living cost increases in the previous month.
78% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their pay.
Last year police officers across England and Wales were given an average of a 5% pay rise – but this was way below inflation booming now at more than 10%. Household bills are rising sharply and over the past 12 years police officer pay has fallen in real terms by 25%.
Officers are struggling with poor morale and lack of support, the survey found. Nine in ten (92%) said they do not feel respected by the Government, and a further nine in ten (92%) said morale was low at the force. Three quarters said their workload was ‘high’ or ‘much too high.’
Officers are also coming under attack from the public, the report showed, with 17% having suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention as a result of work-related violence in the last year.
Low mood and poor wellbeing is a problem at the force; 61% said they do not feel valued within the service, and seven in ten said they would not recommend joining up to others.
Sadly, 78% of respondents from Wiltshire indicated that they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months, and 47% said that they find their job ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful.
Worryingly, 12% of respondents told researchers that they intend to resign from the police service either ‘within the next two years’ or ‘as soon as [they] can’.
Phil Matthews, Chair of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “The survey reflects the Government’s failure to invest in policing in the long-term leading officers to breaking point. Underfunded forces and overworked and underpaid police officers are leading the profession to a level of crisis not seen before.
“In Wiltshire a huge 98% of police officers reported facing a substantial increased cost of living between August and September 2022 with the increase in the price of their food shop being the most common reason.
“Furthermore, 16% of police officers reported ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ having enough money to cover all their essentials.
“The compelling findings have also illustrated a growing crisis in the wellbeing and mental health of police officers, with 78 % indicating they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.
An alarming number of officers, 37 percent did not feel that generally they ‘have enough officers to manage the demands being made on us as a team/unit. This being the main reason for them needing to work beyond their hours’ while 91 percent stated they are not paid fairly for the stresses and strains of their job.
“The results clearly illustrate the anger and disillusionment of our brave colleagues and can no longer be ignored by the policymakers.
“Of 510 officers who responded, 95% of them said their treatment by the Government harmed their morale with 82% saying the same for pay, while 92% stated they did not feel respected by the Government.
“The long-term attraction and viability of the traditional 30-year career is jeopardised, as 12% of respondents said they intended to resign either within the next two years or as soon as possible; 76% of those who wanted to quit blamed poor morale, 70% attributed this decision to the treatment of police by the Government and 67% cited pay as the reason.
The vast majority, 78% disclosed they are ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their overall remuneration (including basic pay and allowances).
“Additionally, and quite sadly, 70% of respondents said they would not recommend joining the police to others.
“Nearly 4 in every 10 police officers reported facing verbal abuse in the past 12 months and 17% of them said they had suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention because of work-related violence in the last year.
In fact, 85% stated they are not paid fairly considering the hazards faced within their job.
Phil Matthews, Chair of Wiltshire Federation, said: “Isn’t it just so awful that, while others strike for fair pay and conditions, your police officers are always available, they come at your every call, yet they have one of the worst pay deals out there.
“We are looking at real terms 25% pay cuts since this Government’s first overt attack on policing over 10 years ago.
“Add to this the officers also suffering in this financial crisis in which we all feel, Wiltshire Police Federation have spearheaded the Law and Larder Scheme to assist officer at this horrid time. Why are the Government sat back and ignoring what is right under their noses? The officers that stand on their doors and protect them, that prevent crime and disorder so they can go on to make more ridiculous decisions.
“Police officers have always been a loyal breed of duty obliged, caring people that have always loved the job they do despite the politics behind it all. Policing shouldn’t be about politics. They would always still recommend joining because the job was amazing despite the distain for us by those in power. Now 70% of Wiltshire Police officers are shouting at you now Government, 92% of them are telling you they see force morale as low or very low. How are you not hearing this?
“This Government have successfully drained the motivation, drive, and spirit out of policing. I implore them, make good or stand down, you have broken this service, it has collapsed, you MUST invest, you MUST repair. We need the police. We hear phrases like ‘Winter of discontent’, strikes all over the country that, in some cases may have cost lives.
“I invite the National Police Chief’s Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to join the Police Federation and hold the Government to account.
“Our Chief Constables are being asked to achieve the impossible, and then being scapegoated when it cannot be done on the budgets given so that the Government remain with a clean blade.
“These numbers are from our members, from police officers in all departments and the reflection across the country is that policing needs urgent investment and needs fixing.
“I encourage any member that is struggling with morale, mood, or anything at all to please come and talk to your Federation.”