Police officers ‘reaching breaking point’ and ‘record numbers’ resign - how Merseyside officers are affected

Eighty-five percent of Merseyside Police officers were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with pay.

The Police Federation of England and Wales’s (PFEW) has revealed severe struggles faced by officers and a sense of deepening frustration with the Government.

The annual Pay and Morale Survey (2022) found 9 in 10 police officers feel financially worse off than they were five years ago and nearly one in five officers plan on resigning as soon as possible or within the next two years due to reasons including unfair pay and the Government’s failure to help.

Ninety-five percent of officers said that how the Police are treated by the Government had a ‘negative effect’ or ‘very negative effect’ on their morale, and almost 87% said the same for pay.

The survey, which took place between September and October last year, showed that a shocking 98% of respondents from Merseyside Police said that their cost of living had increased in the last month and 85% were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their overall remuneration - including basic pay and allowances.

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn said: “Police officers are reaching breaking point and are leaving the service in their droves as every element of their pay and conditions has been gradually eroded in the space of a decade.

“Record numbers are resigning over inadequate pay and conditions. We are losing some exceptional officers simply because they cannot afford to stay in the service with an alarming number unable to afford monthly essentials.

“The latest figures indicate 8,117 police officers left the service in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022 – the highest number of leavers since comparable records began, and at least 1,800 of those officers who joined under the Government Uplift Programme have already voluntarily resigned.”

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said the morale within their force was ‘low’ or ‘very low’ and 90% of said that within the Police service as a whole, morale is ‘low’ or ‘very low.’

Merseyside Police respondents

The response of Merseyside Police officers is in line with police officers across the country, with many struggling with money and not feeling respected b the Government.

Around 1,153 officers from Merseyside Police completed the survey, representing a response rate of around 29% (based on March 2022 Home Office figures).

Eighty-one percent of respondents felt that morale within the force is currently ‘low’ or ‘very low’ and 51% said their personal morale is ‘low’ or ‘very low.’

Almost all Merseyside Police respondents (94%) said that they do not feel respected by the Government and almost three quarters (71%) said that they would not recommend joining the police to others.

Seventeen percent of respondents said that they intend to resign from the police service either ‘within the next two years’ or ‘as soon as [they] can’ and the most frequently cited reasons for intending to leave were morale, pay and how the police are treated by the government (with 97%, 96% and 96% respectively).

Pay

In Merseyside Police, 88% of respondents said they do not believe they’re paid fairly for the hazards that come with the job and 94% said they’re not paid fairly for the stresses and strains of the job.

Cost-of-living has increased for people across the country and many have seen extreme rises in the cost of energy and fuel.

Ninety-seven percent of Merseyside Police officers said the cost of their fuel had increased, 98% said their food shop cost has increased and 95% said their gas or energy bills had risen.

Many workers across the country have participated, or will be participating, in strike action for fair pay in recent months, including nurses, ambulance staff, refuse workers and rail staff,

Police however, are legally not allowed to undertake strike action. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, police and prison officers cannot withhold services as they are deemed too important. This means that we can’t expect officers to walk-out for fair pay any time soon, but, further resignations from the force aren’t unlikely.

What has been said?

Merseyside Police Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy said: “Having read the findings of the survey... in some ways they do not surprise me, as they follow the trend we have seen in recent years and the results for Merseyside Police reflect the feeling of police officers nationally.

“Like other public sector organisations across the country, our officers and staff are facing many challenges in their daily working lives, against a backdrop of below inflation wage increases which impact on their family lives.

“I can completely understand how this impacts on morale, particularly here on Merseyside where we have faced numerous challenges in the last 12 months, which have led to cancelled rest days and increased hours.

“This year, the survey saw an increase in the number of responses to the survey of 29 per cent, up from just 17 per cent last year, to me this shows the impact of today’s challenges on our staff. For many who join the police service, they do so because it is a vocation for them and they want to do their bit to keep our communities safe.”

The Chief Constable added: “I am proud to say that despite the challenges my officers and staff have faced they continue to do everything within their power to keep our communities safe and put offenders behind bars. This was evident again over the past two week where officers and staff have worked tirelessly into the murder of Elle Edwards.

“As a result of their continued hard, work and commitment we have been recognised as one of the best performing forces by His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire Service (HMICFRS), graded as outstanding for tackling serious and organised crime and overall good performance.”

Ms Kennedy said the force has increased its investment in Occupational Health Unit and Wellbeing services to ensure officers have the help and support they need, particularly during busy and challenging times.