Underpaid and undervalued? Norfolk police officers unhappy with low pay and morale
PUBLISHED: 14:34 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:39 19 November 2019
Three quarters of Norfolk police officers are unhappy with their pay and nearly half say they have low morale, according to a new survey.
Out of the 429 responses from Norfolk officers to the Police Federation of England and Wales Pay and Morale Survey, 72pc felt that they were worse off financially than they were five years ago and 14pc said they almost never have enough money to cover all their essentials.
Norfolk Police Federation chairman Andy Symonds said: "One of the big figures for me is around the state of their personal finances. My members, 53pc of them, on a day-to-day basis worry about their personal finance, which is pretty shocking."
He said 16pc of that 53pc had sought some financial help or borrowed money off family or friends in the past year.
The starting salary for a police officer in Norfolk is £24,177. This year officers were given a 2.5pc pay increase but the Police Federation had asked for a five per cent uplift, followed by a further five per cent in both 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Mr Symonds said: "We've had years of austerity, with pay freezes and then the public sector pay cap. It's not rocket science - since 2010 police officers have seen an 18pc real-terms pay cut from their pay, this is a national disgrace and this issue lands squarely in the government's lap."
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In the survey 46pc of officers also said they had low morale though this is an 11pc improvement on last year's findings.
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Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey said survey highlighted areas of concern but was I'm pleased to see morale had improved over the past 12 months.
He added: "There's no doubt our service has faced some tough challenges in recent years and our approach has always been to maintain frontline numbers; a commitment we delivered through the introduction of a new policing model.
"We now have more than 100 additional officers on the beat and I'm confident we are now seeing the benefit of these changes, with increased numbers on shift sharing the demand."
He said the constabulary had invested in wellbeing services including a partnership with Walnut Tree which offers mental health support.
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Mr Symonds said: "We've had some positives which is important and we've seen an increase in officers' morale. We've got more happier officers and that's because of some of the things we've done locally and supported locally as a federation, and the chief has as well, one of those being the Walnut Tree mental health support offering. Officers now have got that knowledge that actually the constabulary and the federation will support them in their hour of need.
"It's a bespoke package to Norfolk and thankfully Walnut Tree is something the force has agreed to put money behind."
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said: "Our officers protect us and our communities and many undertake hugely physically and mentally challenging roles. Ensuring their wellbeing has always been of paramount importance to me and I continue to work closely with the constabulary and the Police Federation to ensure this.
"While it is pleasing to see that morale has increased by more than 10pc in the past year, there are clearly issues which need to be investigated further and addressed appropriately. Through my office I will be monitoring to ensure this is done."