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16 November 2012
The police pensions e-petition, the LSE police officer survey and feedback from officers on the ground all paint a stark picture of discontent within the police service.
Since the coalition government came to power in 2010, discontent and anger in the police service has reached unprecedented levels. Forces have been hit with 20% budget cuts, while officers have seen a two-year pay freeze, dramatic changes to their terms and conditions, and their pensions cut.
More than 102,500 people have now signed an e-petition calling on the government to halt changes to police pensions, demonstrating the wide discontent felt within the service.
At the start of 2013, the Police Federation of England and Wales will ballot members on whether they wish for the Federation to seek industrial rights for officers. This is yet another indicator of rock bottom morale among officers, who feel it is their only option when the government seems hell-bent on attacking the police and destroying the office of constable and the uniqueness it represents.
This low morale was also reflected in the recent Police Officer Survey, conducted by the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics. The survey received more than 14,000 responses, representing one in eight police officers.
Two of the most alarming results found that over one half of respondents said they were giving serious consideration to leaving the force and only 1% felt supported by the current government.
The survey found:
More than 90% were of the view that reducing the numbers of police officers and police staff would increase crime.
56.4% of officers surveyed are considering their future within the service.
Less than 1% thought the coalition government supported the police a great deal.
83% of officers surveyed believed the police should be free of political influence.
The majority of those surveyed have a negative view on privatization of police services.
If action is not taken fast, the demise of the service will mean it is beyond repair, and public safety will be compromised. Officers feel targeted by this government and the e-petition, survey and feedback from around the country show the high levels of unrest and discontent in the ranks.
Paul McKeever, Chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales, says:
“The recent e-petition and survey show the reality of just how low morale in the service has got, demonstrating the deep concern and discontentment officers feel over their present situation and the future of British policing - a model respected around the world.
“The low priority the government has given to policing is leading to a service in chaos and officers demoralised by the constant assaults. The government must stop, take stock of what is happening to policing and review their tactics on policing as a matter of urgency. The first duty of any government is the safety of the public. The demoralising actions of this government seem to starkly conflict with this.”