The impact the pandemic has had on officers in Cambridgeshire has been revealed with today’s release of the findings of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) annual pay and morale survey.
The 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.
Key findings in Cambridgeshire were:
- 55 per cent of respondents said the Force managed officers well during the Covid-19 crisis
- 52 per cent reported having access to adequate PPE when necessary during the pandemic
- 48 per cent felt they had received adequate training on the crisis from the Force.
- One third felt the Force would be able to recruit the number of officers allocated to Cambridgeshire as part of the Government’s plans to boost officer numbers by 20,000 during a three-year uplift programme.
Pay and remuneration
- 89 per cent of respondents did not feel fairly paid for the stresses and strains of the job
- 80 per cent did not feel fairly paid for the hazards they faced
- 70 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their overall remuneration, including pay and allowances
- 59 per cent felt they were worse off financially than they were five years ago
- 40 per cent worried about the state of their finances daily or almost daily
- Six per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their essentials.
- Almost half (45 per cent) said their morale was currently low, compared with 51 per cent in 2019
- 69 per cent felt Force morale was currently low, compared with 85 per cent in the 2019 survey
- The top reasons given for low morale were how the police are treated as a whole (86 per cent), pay and benefits (75 per cent), and workload and responsibilities (72 per cent).
- Almost half (47 per cent) said they would not recommend joining the police service to others
- Nine per cent said they intended to leave the police service either within the next two years or as soon as possible.
Liz Groom, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation, said: “We will be discussing the findings of this report with chief officers over the coming weeks. It is pleasing to see that both personal morale and Force morale have improved since last year and given the pressures officers have faced since the outbreak of the pandemic in March I think that is quite an achievement.
“But I am really concerned about the feedback officers have given about their finances. It is clearly wrong that three out of five officers feel they are worse off now than they were five years ago and the announcement of a public sector pay freeze is going to do nothing to ease that. Officers carry out a vital, and at times dangerous, role in society and they deserve to be paid and treated fairly.
“We are about to enter Year 2 of a three-year recruitment drive but I wonder how we are going to attract the right calibre of recruits when officer pay has fallen in real terms in recent years. At the other end of the scale, how are we going to retain the experienced officers we have?”
The Federation pay and morale survey gathers members’ views on pay and conditions, as well as attitudes to work and the police service. Since 2014, it has been one of the largest annual surveys of police officers conducted within England and Wales.
This year’s survey covered a wide range of subjects and canvassed views on topics such as pay, the cost of living, morale and the proposed police officer uplift.
It 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.
The survey generated more than 25,000 responses which is around 20 per cent of all Federated rank officers across England and Wales.
John Apter, national chair of the Federation, said: “These results should give serious concern to chief constables and to the 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 unforgiveable.”