Police staff morale at all time low

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is warning that police staff morale in England, Wales and Scotland is at an all time low, as a new survey (Sunday 17 August) reveals a third are ‘very stressed’.

The survey of 3,335 police staff puts the worryingly high level of stress down to cuts to the service. Police staff such as 999 call takers, Police Community Support Officers, detention officers, fingerprint experts, scene of crime officers and crime analysts cite increased workload (68%) as the main reason why they are stressed.

Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer, said:

“We understand working in the police service can be stressful, but stress levels are worryingly high.   That’s bad for morale and for the public who rely on their help and support – often in very difficult circumstances.  The seriousness of the issue seems to be largely ignored by managers.

“Government budget cuts were bound to have an impact on workers, particularly in terms of workload. Those in post are now expected to do more and cover for the roles that have been cut.

“Police leaders need to take urgent action and ensure managers and supervisors are properly trained to support their staff at a time when severe police funding cuts are damaging morale.  And the Government needs to make realistic funding available to enable forces to deal with the rising public demand for police services.”

The respondents said job insecurity (60%), lack of support from management (50%) and concerns about the cost of living and pay (52%), also contribute to the growth of stress at work among police staff. And more than a third (35%) said they have a ‘bad’ work-life balance.

The survey shows that Government cuts to police budgets have had a damaging impact on the quality or coverage police services, with 63% reporting that  jobs cuts have hit morale. More than half (55%) suffer from anxiety, 48% are demotivated and 47% suffer from insomnia.

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Three quarters of those surveyed said there had been job cuts and redundancies in their area of work since 2010. And the majority (76%) said their stress level has increased over the past year.

Nearly 60% of police staff said their force has not taken any steps to reduce stress in the workplace and only a quarter feel comfortable talking to their manager about the issue.

Respondents said filling vacancies and employing more staff would help reduce stress in the workplace. UNISON is calling on the Government and police leaders to review the gap between the rising demand for police services and the cutbacks to the police workforce.
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