Officers may quit over policing reforms
More than half of rank-and-file police officers are considering switching professions due to uncertainty caused by radical reforms to the service, research carried out in the West Country has found.
Police forces face changes to pay, conditions and recruitment under a far-reaching overhaul masterminded by ex-rail regulator Tom Winsor.
Some 51.1 per cent of police officers surveyed by the University of the West of England (UWE) said they “would consider looking for alternative employment” as a direct result of concern over Mr Winsor’s proposals.
And 95.1 per cent of officers surveyed had no confidence in the long-term government plans for the police.
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Dr James Hoggett, who led the research as a pilot with Avon and Somerset Police officers, said: “The study showed that proposed changes and those currently being implemented are causing significant levels of uncertainty and concern amongst officers on the ground.”
Among policing reforms being ushered through by the Home Office are plans to cut annual pay for new police constables by £4,000 to £19,000.
A fast-track scheme aimed at both university graduates and serving officers will allow constables to rise to the rank of inspector in just three years, while foreign candidates will be able to apply for chief constable roles for the first time.
Some 1,400 officers were interviewed for the survey, which was commissioned by the Constables Central Committee of the Police Federation and will be rolled out to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The study also found that 86.3 per cent of officers disagreed that “proposed reductions to police starting salaries will help to attract the right calibre of recruit”.
Some 94.2 per cent of survey respondents were dissatisfied with the Winsor review of police pay and conditions, although 86.9 per cent agreed that “some change is needed in the police”.
Low morale was reported by 83.4 per cent of officers.
While 96.4 per cent of policemen and women said they believed goodwill was “essential” to the success of the police service, 80.8 per cent believe that the reforms will erode goodwill in the future.
Dr Hoggett, a senior lecturer in criminology at UWE, went on: “Officers clearly accept the need for change, but believe it should be without political interference and should involve the police service itself. For the vast majority, being a police officer is a fundamental part of their self-concept – who they are – and they are therefore willing to make sacrifices to be police officers.”
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘‘Our reforms are working and crime is falling. Policing continues to be a well-paid career that recognises the important job officers do and rewards their hard work and dedication. We are also opening up police recruitment to attract the very best candidates. The huge number of applications received by Wiltshire Police following a recruitment drive in January shows that becoming a police officer remains a very attractive career choice.”