More than half of rank and file police officers are planning to quit over Government reforms, according to a new survey.
Less than a third believe the sacrifices they make to do the job are still worth it and a vast majority – 83.4 per cent – said morale was low.
Cuts in budgets and police numbers, changes in pay and working conditions, privatisation plans and the arrival of Police and Crime Commissioners are all fuelling unhappiness.
The findings come from a pilot survey by the University of the West of England among 1,400 officers between the ranks of Pc and Chief Inspector in Avon and Somerset.
The key points include:
* 51.1 per cent say they would consider looking for alternative employment as a direct result of concern about the future of the police service and uncertainty brought about by current proposals.
* Only 31.4 per cent still believe the sacrifices they make to be in the police – such as the negative impact on their personal and family lives – are still worth it.
* 86.3 per cent strongly disagree or disagree that proposed reductions to police starting salaries will help to attract the right calibre of recruit to join the police.
* 95.1 per cent have no confidence in the long term government plans for the police.
* 94.2 per cent are either dissatisfied or strongly dissatisfied with the Winsor review of police pay and conditions.
Almost 87 per cent of officers agreed that change is needed in the police – but said it has to be independent of politics and in collaboration with the police.
And 80.8 per cent said they believed that the changes happening to the police service will erode the goodwill within the public that the police need to succeed.
Researcher Dr James Hoggett said: “Multiple changes are currently facing the police service and this research sought to look at how these changes are perceived by rank and file officers.
“The study showed that proposed changes and those currently being implemented are causing significant levels of uncertainty and concern amongst officers on the ground.
“Officers clearly accept the need for change, but believe it should be without political interference and should involve the police service itself.
“The study suggests that proposed changes are threatening this perceived concept of ‘goodwill’ (the willingness to make sacrifices and work beyond what is required of them) which officers believe is essential to the success of the police.
“Officers suggest that this ‘goodwill’ forms the bedrock of policing in our society and is a vital part of the concept of policing by consent.
“Therefore how any changes may affect this goodwill needs to be more thoroughly understood when designing proposals for change.
“There was also concern amongst officers about changes to pensions, retirement age, privatisation and direct entry.
“Recommendations from the report include better support for officers during change; and engaging rank and file officers more actively in developing new and effective ways of working.”
The survey is to be replicated across the remaining 43 forces in England and Wales.