More than 80 per cent of Thames Valley Police officers ‘worse off’ financially than five years ago

The Thames Valley Police Federation says “a shocking 86 per cent” of officers feel ‘worse off’ financially now than they were five years ago.

Jan 11, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Thames Valley Police

And 19 per cent of Thames Valley Police officers ‘never’ or ‘almost never’ have enough money to cover all their essentials, according to the latest pay and morale report.

More than 1,200 Thames Valley Police officers responded to the Police Federation of England and Wales survey, which found that 97 per cent had seen living cost increases in the previous month and 86 per cent of respondents saying they were dissatisfied with their pay.

Thames Valley Police Federation vice-chair Aileen O’Connor said: “All we ask the Government to do is give each and every officer a meaningful and in line with inflation pay award so they can continue to live and work within the South East area of Thames Valley and to recognise they do a job like no other.”

Last year, police officers across England and Wales were given an average of a five per cent pay rise – but this was way below inflation booming now at more than ten per cent, she said. Household bills are rising sharply and over the past 12 years police officer pay has fallen in real terms by 25 per cent.

Thames Valley Police Federation said officers are struggling with low morale and lack of support, according to the survey. A “huge” 92 per cent of officers said they do not feel respected by the Government, and 55 per cent said they were experiencing low morale, it added.

Officers are also coming under attack from the public, the report showed, with 14 per cent having suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention as a result of work-related violence in the last year.

Thames Valley Police Federation said low mood and poor wellbeing is a problem at the force; 65 per cent said they do not feel valued within the service, and 69 per cent said they would not recommend joining up to others.

It added: “Sadly, 86 per cent of respondents indicated that they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months, and 45 per cent said that they find their job ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressful.

“Worryingly, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents told researchers that they intend to resign from the police service either ‘within the next two years’ or ‘as soon as [they] can’.”

Ms O’Connor said: “The role of a police officer is unique and like no other, whether you are a response officer, a detective, a neighbourhood officer or a specialist officer involved in the firearms arena or a dog handler, every day you potentially put your life on the line when dealing with the undesirables in our society.

“These undesirables cause pain and suffering in the communities across the Thames Valley and the only people to bring them to justice and protect the people within Thames Valley are the officers of the Thames Valley Police.

“Our officers are assaulted daily, punched, kicked, spat at, driven at and assaulted with weapons.

“They return home to their loved ones, wife, husbands, partners and children with bruised faces, cuts to the bodies and more importantly damaged souls with the physiological effects of being assaulted trying to do their very best.”

She added: “Ninety-two per cent of our members who completed the pay and morale survey stated they did not feel valued by the Government; this reflected in the lack of meaningful pay award our officers received from the Government last year.

“Our officers are being pulled from pillar to post and they are not being allowed to devote the time to be proactive in catching criminals, or focusing on bringing offenders to justice or having enough time to spend with victims of crimes.

“This is due to a number of factors, workloads, an inexperienced workforce to share the work, and the time spent on file preparation with the new DG6 guidance around disclosure. Even the simplest and most straightforward case file is now taking hours and hours. That’s hours of being station bound being swamped in paperwork and not being out across the communities they serve.

“And now this year we face strikes within the NHS affecting nurses and doctors and ambulance staff; who is it the public call upon in their hour of need when they can’t get an ambulance or they can’t get hold of social services or they can’t parent/discipline their 12 year old child… yes you guessed it, the police.”

Ms O’Connor said until the Government addresses the issues across society around high inflation rates, the cost-of-living crisis and the issues across the other public sector arenas that affect policing, “things simply won’t change, and policing will continue to bear the brunt of this”.

She added: “I would like to thank the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and our chief constable for agreeing to raise the South East allowance for our officers from £2,500 to £3,000 per year which is the maximum they can raise this to.

“Our officers should be seeing slightly more in the pay packets at the end of the month, but they probably aren’t due to the high cost of living crisis we are in and again this is an issue that only the government can address.

“Finally I would like to thank our members for taking part in the survey; the only way we can address the issue our members raise is to have the data around it. We will continue to use the data to hold the chief and the PCC to account around the issues raised by our members.”

Elsewhere, more than 500 Wiltshire Police officers responded to the pay and morale survey, with 85 per cent saying they feel ‘worse off’ financially now than they were five years ago.

Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson said: “In order for the public to receive the police service they want, and deserve, it is essential that our police officers are given the best possible training, equipment, support generally, alongside strategic leadership and direction.

“They also must feel supported, within the force, and valued by a public who understand Wiltshire Police are going the extra mile on their behalf in these difficult economic times. Above all, this requires Wiltshire Police officers to be paid a decent salary.

“We have many dedicated, hard-working, police officers in Wiltshire and ultimately our success as a police force depends upon us getting the right people for the job, training and developing them well and then rewarding them appropriately so that they stay with us.”

He added: “Wiltshire Police has faced repeated performance criticisms over the last six months so these low morale figures are, unfortunately, not surprising.

“A lot of expectation is placed on police officers and there is an increased, and repeated, demand for them to take on the duties of the other emergency services, which is having a major negative impact upon their ability to deliver the core policing functions which inspired them to join the police in the first place. It is little wonder why our officers feel so frustrated.

“Community safety depends upon an efficient, effective and legitimate police force, so I am taking this report extremely seriously. Many of the underlying causes of concern raised by the adverse observations in our recent assessments are already being tackled between my office and the current chief constable and will continue once the new chief constable is in place.

“We know morale is directly related to job satisfaction and I know that Wiltshire Police officers want nothing more than to keep Wiltshire’s residents safe and to be appreciated for doing so. This must be our number one goal in the coming year and is an issue that I have no doubt the next chief constable will want to tackle immediately. My office will give all of the support, and more, needed to do that.”

See https://www.policeprofessional.com/news/nearly-one-in-five-police-officers-planning-to-quit-in-next-two-years/

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