Pay and morale survey: impact of pandemic on policing is revealed

2 December 2020

The impact the pandemic has had on Gwent officers has been revealed after 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 Gwent were:

Covid-19

  • 42 per cent of respondents said the Force managed officers well during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Just over a third (36 per cent) felt they had not received adequate training on the crisis from the Force but 35 per cent felt the Force training was adequate
  • 43 per cent reported having access to adequate PPE when necessary during the pandemic while 39 per cent said they didn’t.

Recruitment drive

  • One third felt the Force would be able to recruit the number of officers allocated to Gwent as part of the Government’s plans to boost officer numbers by 20,000 over a three-year programme.

Pay and remuneration

  • 86 per cent of respondents did not feel fairly paid for the stresses and strains of the job
  • 76 per cent did not feel fairly paid for the hazards they faced
  • Two thirds said they were dissatisfied with their overall remuneration, including pay and allowances
  • One third worried about the state of their finances daily or almost daily
  • Just over half (51 per cent) felt they were worse off financially than they were five years ago, and
  • Five per cent reported never or almost never having enough money to cover their essentials.

Morale

  • Almost half (46 per cent) said their morale was currently low
  • Four out of five (78 per cent) felt Force morale was currently low
  • More than half (56 per cent) said they would not recommend joining the police service to others
  • The top reasons given for low morale were how the police are treated as a whole (89 per cent), pay and benefits and workload (both 70 per cent), pension (69 per cent) and the Covid crisis (66 per cent).

Steve Thorpe, chair of Gwent Police Federation, said the report made for sobering reading.

“The pandemic has clearly had an effect on everyone’s lives,” he explained, “But, of course, police officers have been out on the front-line so it is understandable that they have raised some real concerns.

“This survey was carried out before the Government announced that public sector workers, including the police, would be subjected to a pay freeze so I can only imagine that morale is even lower now.

“We will be raising the findings of this survey with our chief officer team and hope they take on board what officers are saying. We know the Force takes wellbeing seriously but it cannot afford to be complacent. As a Federation, we will work with the Force to try to build on what has been achieved to date.”

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.”

More than half of Gwent’s respondents (57 per cent) said they did not feel valued in the police and just under a third (32 per cent) felt they were treated fairly, the eighth highest level of all forces.

Of those who said they planned to leave policing in the next two years, the reasons given were personal morale (79 per cent), the impact of the job on personal/family life (73 per cent) and the impact of the job on health and wellbeing (67 per cent).

Read the full report for Gwent Police Federation.