How pandemic has hit police morale in Lancashire

Survey lays bare impact of coronavirus on officers

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 7:00 am
More than 500 Lancashire Police officers responded to the Pay and Morale study

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on police officers in Lancashire has been laid bare in a major survey, as more than two-thirds say morale has taken a major hit during the crisis.

The Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector across England and Wales, has published the results of its annual Pay and Morale study.

It found that of 513 respondents from Lancashire Constabulary, 67 per cent – more than 300 – felt the Covid-19 pandemic had a “negative or very negative” impact on morale this year.

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Asked whether they had received sufficient training on the Covid crisis, 22 per cent said no, while 28 per cent said they did not have adequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed.

The study also revealed six per cent of respondents in Lancashire intend to leave the force within the next two years, or as soon as possible, with seven per cent of those citing Covid-19 as having had a major impact on their decision. Low morale was a factor for 72 per cent, while pay and benefits fuelled the decision for 59 per cent.

Around 54 per cent of respondents said they would not recommend joining the police.

Across England and Wales, 59 per cent of those polled would not advocate joining the police, amid a national recruitment drive to hire 20,000 officers.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation, called the survey results “a cry for help” from police officers across England and Wales.

He said: “These results should give serious concern to chief constables and to the Government.

“This year, more than ever, officers have been put under significant pressure, dealing with the day job as well as policing the constantly changing Covid rules.

“Despite doing their very best, they have been turned into the villains of this pandemic by some, damned whatever they do, and this constant criticism takes its toll.”

Mr Apter added that officers are also dealing with their own worries about the virus, and the fear that they may take it home to their families.

The survey publication follows anger at the public sector pay freeze that will affect the majority of police officers.

Public sector workers earning less than £24,000 will get a rise of at least £250 next year, but Mr Apter said this would only apply to officers who were on “an appallingly low starting salary”.

About 67 per cent of Lancashire officers listed pay as having a “negative or very negative” impact on their morale, while 86% believe they are not paid fairly for the stresses and strains of the job.

The Home Office praised “brave police officers and staff” who have worked “heroically to protect the public during the pandemic”, adding that anyone, including police, has access to coronavirus tests if needed.