Survey reveals the impact of pandemic on officers

2 December 2020

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne says the pressure of policing the pandemic is taking its toll on officers.

His comments come after the release of the findings of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) annual pay and morale survey.

The South Wales report revealed:

  • 46 per cent of respondents said the Force has managed officers well during the pandemic, lower than the national average of 49 per cent
  • 36 per cent of South Wales Police respondents said they’d received adequate training on the crisis compared to 41 per cent nationally
  • 83 per cent said the Force had kept them up to date on Covid-19 related guidance. Nationally the figure was 78 per cent.

In terms of morale, 47 per cent of respondents said it was low or very low, while 74 per cent said Force morale was low or very low.

The main reasons for low morale cited were how the police as a whole were treated (90 per cent); pensions (73 per cent); pay and benefits (71 per cent) and the Covid-19 crisis (70 per cent).

Steve said: “My colleagues have been at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus from the very beginning. They’ve seen the devastating impact it’s had on people, they’ve even had it weaponised against them, and there’s the constant worry you might bring it home to loved ones. It’s no wonder it’s starting to take its toll.

“We’ll be raising the survey with the chief officers and we’ll work with the Force to ensure our members’ voices are being heard.”

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.

Other key findings in South Wales were:

  • 84 per cent of respondents did not feel fairly paid for the stresses and strains of the job
  • 77 per cent did not feel fairly paid for the hazards they faced
  • 67 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their overall remuneration, including pay and allowances
  • 38 per cent worried about the state of their finances daily or almost daily
  • Just over half (53 per cent) felt they were worse off financially than they were five years ago, and seven per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their essentials.

Steve added: “The survey was carried out before the Government’s announcement of a public sector pay freeze, which is another blow to our members’ financial wellbeing and their morale.”

Elsewhere in the survey, 53 per cent of respondents from South Wales Police said that they did not feel valued within the police, and 57 per cent said that they wouldn’t recommend joining the police to others

Some 33 per cent of respondents from South Wales Police said that they’re not treated fairly compared to 36 per cent who feel they are treated fairly.

National Federation chair John Apter said: “These results should give serious concern to chief constables and to 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.”

Read the full report.