Morale hit as officers react to pay freeze

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne has warned officers are at breaking point after a new survey highlighted falling morale and fears over pay and conditions.

Steve says the results of the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual pay and morale survey, conducted within all 43 forces across England and Wales, make for stark reading and reveal a service that’s underfunded and officers who feel undervalued.

“Our members have shown incredible dedication, commitment and professionalism policing the pandemic,” he said.

“They’ve been risking their health and safety to carry out their essential work and protect communities.

“However, this survey paints a picture of a service that is demoralised after years of cuts and underfunding, a service that’s overstretched and undervalued. Officers are at breaking point.

“It’s time that our members were given the respect and support they deserve from this Government.”

The survey found that 62 per cent of officers in South Wales Police felt their morale was either low or very low compared to 58 per cent across England and Wales as a whole. The figure, the ninth lowest across England and Wales, is up from 47 per cent in the previous year’s survey.

A total of 90 per cent felt that morale in the force was low or very low, again higher than the national average (84 per cent) and up on the previous year (74 per cent).

The report found that the biggest contributor to low morale was the way police were treated by the Government (96 per cent), how the police were treated by the public (89 per cent), and pay (85 per cent). Other factors included pensions (81 per cent), the pandemic (75 per cent), and workload and responsibilities (68 per cent).

The survey also found that one in 10 officers intended to leave the police service, either within the next two years or as soon as possible.

A total of 46 per cent of officers said they worried about the state of their personal finances every day or almost every day, while 15 per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their monthly essentials.

The survey also found that 95 per cent of officers don’t feel they’re paid fairly for the stresses and strains of their job, up from 84 per cent on the previous year. In South Wales, 90 per cent said they’re not fairly paid for the hazards they face in the role, up from 77 per cent in 2020.

Key findings in South Wales were:

Pay and remuneration

  • 81 per cent said that they are dissatisfied with their overall remuneration (including basic pay and allowances)
  • 46 per cent reported worrying about the state of their personal finances every day or almost every day
  • 69 per cent felt that they were worse off financially than they were five years ago
  • 15 per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover all their essentials.

Morale and engagement

  • 62 per cent said their morale is currently low
  • 90 per cent felt morale within the force is currently low
  • 68 per cent said they would not recommend joining the police to others
  • 95 per cent said they do not feel respected by the Government
  • 10 per cent said they had an intention to leave the police service either within the next 2 years or as soon as possible.

Workload and working time

  • 7 per cent said that they have never or rarely been able to take at least one rest day per week in the last 12 months
  • 66 per cent said that over the last 12 months, their workload has been too high or much too high.

Steve added: “The findings of our survey make distressing reading and the Government needs to act swiftly.

“We’re also calling on the Government to work with the Federation on a new and fairer system of remuneration decision-making to ensure officers receive a meaningful pay increase to make reparations for the years of real-terms cuts and to support policing, before we see even more officers leave their roles.”

Read the full survey report.