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Wiltshire Police Federation

PFEW Chair slams Government on pay freeze as survey outlines damage to psychological wellbeing of colleagues

30 November 2021

Polfed News

PFEW Chair slams Government on pay freeze, as survey outlines damage to psychological wellbeing of colleagues 

A survey has laid bare the severe impact on the wellbeing of those leaving the police service caused by poor morale, low pay, overwork and the lack of resources available to meet the demands of the job.

The Police Federation of England and Wales’ Leavers’ Survey, compiled by the organisation’s Research Department, polled 2,326 members between October 2017 and July 2021.

Of those who resigned, 59 per cent said the impact of the job on their psychological health

had a major effect on their decision, while a quarter of all respondents said workload was a factor.

Roughly a fifth of respondents said pension changes were a big factor in their decision to leave, while 19 per cent said the way pension changes had been implemented had a major effect on their decision to leave– especially amongst mid-career respondents.

The erosion of basic pay in recent years was also another contributing factor for many leaving early, with 30 per cent of those who resigned saying this was a major reason.

However, 28 per cent also said a better work-life balance would have made them reconsider their decision to leave, while improvements to welfare and work-life balance could have made approximately 40 per cent of respondents who resigned reconsider their decision.

John Apter, PFEW’s National Chair, said the findings coincided with what he was being told by members. He said: “The survey contains warning signs chief constables and the Government need to be alive to, especially when it comes to those who are resigning before retirement age. The reason is because of the negative impact on their family and personal life, a lack of job satisfaction, and the issue of resilience.

“There’s simply not enough people for the demands thrown at colleagues - it is relentless.

“While the Home Office says it is adding 20,000 police officers through the uplift programme, this is not being felt yet. You just cannot turn on recruitment taps and hope everything will be fine. It will take three to four years before we can really feel the benefit, and in the meantime we could have more and more people leaving policing or resigning early. It is a vicious circle, and we are putting so much pressure on people it is breaking them.”

Mr Apter said the issue of morale was having a massively detrimental impact on colleagues and called on the Government to take urgent action to address this.

He added: “It’s also about colleagues feeling valued – not just within the job by those who supervise, but also by the public, media and Government. The recent pay freeze was detrimental to policing, as was the lack of vaccine prioritisation. That has made people feel they are not valued, despite what was being expected of them throughout the pandemic.

“Colleagues are telling me that despite nice words from the Government, the Prime Minister and others, these mean absolutely nothing. Morale has been dented and with the uncertainty over the future of pensions, we feel that anger through PFEW’s local branches.

“One quick fix would involve a pay award, but I asked the Government to do an urgent review of its pay freeze decision, and it has not even bothered to respond. That shows just how little this Government think about policing, it’s contemplable. To ensure officers can pay their bills and are rewarded properly, they should be given this now.

“It simply does not wash any more for the Government to say how much it values police officers, but then not back it up with anything. This is seen as what it is by colleagues, a betrayal of trust.”

The survey, a rolling survey which has no designated closing date, is open to any officer who is leaving the police service, including those who are retiring, resigning or required to

leave their force. It was launched to gain an insight into officers’ reasons for leaving and to identify whether officers were gaining what they wanted from a career with the service.

Summary

  • The majority of respondents said their service length was between 26 and 30 years (56 per cent). Respondents were most likely to say that they had 31 years’ service (36 per cent), with the average service length being 25 years
  • Resigners (non-retirees) most common reason for leaving was morale, which 77 per cent of resigners said had a major effect on their decision to leave. Other common reasons for resigning were respondents’ job satisfaction, the impact of the job on family/personal life, and the impact of the job on psychological health
  • A quarter of respondents said their workload had a major effect on their decision to leave; whilst 55 per cent of resigners and 30 per cent of retirees said the number of officers available to meet demands on their team/unit had a major effect on their decision to leave
  • The proportion of resigners (64 per cent) who said the impact of the job on their family or personal life had had a major effect on their decision to leave was almost double the proportion of retirees (33 per cent).