Police officers are getting a “kicking” from both within and outside the service as they face some of the toughest challenges in recent history, the chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation has said.
Nick Smart described a crisis in morale that has stemmed from Government cuts.
West Yorkshire Police has lost hundreds of police officers since the last election and the force faces more than £100 million in cuts over four years.
Mr Smart said: “The cuts have an impact on officers turning up every day, there are less of them, demands are increasing so there is more to do, they are having their rest days cancelled, which doesn’t happen in any other profession.
“We have got the restructured pay conditions and pensions. There is also the whole negative national media thing. We are constantly getting a kicking in the papers for various issues. These issues have massive impact on morale.”
He added that adverse changes to officer’ s pay, conditions and pensions still mean “that there is a huge hangover for staff, who are struggling financially to make ends meet, which contributes massively to lowering morale.”
He said: “The police service has been singled out and taken a bigger hit to pay, conditions and pensions than any other public sector service. Officers rightly feel aggrieved.”
Mr Smart was speaking following the publication of a report that showed only one in ten officers at the force trust their senior managers.
The report, carried out by consultants on behalf of the force, revealed 56 per cent of staff had a negative view of the force, which was described as a “low-trust organisation”, and would not recommend it as an employer. Sixty-two per cent said they did not trust their leaders and 10.5 per cent said they did.
One member of staff told the report’s authors the force was “functioning on the goodwill of staff, which is rapidly wearing thin”, while another said: “In 38 years of working for this force I have never known staff be treated as shabbily or morale so low.”
Mr Smart added: “This report does not surprise us, we will work with the command team but they do need to listen to the grass roots.”
Temporary chief constable Dee Collins said the force was “going through the most significant period of change in its history” and were “fundamentally changing the way we work”.
She said: “We are not unique in how our staff feel. The same things have been widely reported nationally and internationally. It’s perhaps not surprising that morale has been affected.
“We are really keen to continue improving as an organisation and felt the only way we could do this was to take the bold step of seeking an independent assessment of just how our people felt, however painful the results, in order that we could do something about it.
“It may be a cliché, but it’s true that our people are the most important thing we have and we truly value them.”
Date posted: July 31, 2014