‘Poor pay, high workloads and assaults’ take toll on Force morale

The number of South Wales Police officers who believe they are worse off than they were five years ago has risen sharply.

Responding to a question about their personal finances, in the Police Federation’s annual nationwide pay and morale survey, published today (Wednesday 11 January), 82 per cent of the Force’s Federation members said they felt poorer – up 13 per cent on 2021.

And an alarming 70 per cent of respondents admitted they worry about money ‘every day’ or ‘almost every day’, with 95 per cent also of the opinion that they are not paid enough for the stresses and strains of their job.

Steve Treharne, chair of South Wales Police Federation, said: “The results of our latest survey clearly show that inflation is having a damaging effect on our members’ finances. Almost all reported rising food bills and paying more for gas, electricity and petrol. And 41 per cent have had an increase in their rent or mortgage payments.

“Policing is highly demanding and stressful job as it is, without the added pressure of worrying about making the ends meet. The survey found that 17 per cent of officers don’t even have enough money to cover the household essentials every month. What a shocking indictment of the way society treats emergency workers in 2023.”

On workloads, 67 per cent of 805 South Wales Police respondents said they felt they were being asked to do too much, and 34 per cent complained of pressure to work long hours. Nearly half of officers suffered verbal abuse ‘at least once a week’ and 15 per cent reported being assaulted every week and this included incident involving hitting, kicking, wrestling and struggling to get free.

Steve added: “When you take the factors of poor pay, high workloads, and the constant threat of physical violence that my colleagues face every day, it is little wonder that 53 per cent are telling us they have low morale. Two thirds say they do not feel valued within the police and would not recommend a career in policing to other people.

“Some 14 per cent of South Wales officers are saying they intend to leave within the next two years, which is above the Welsh average, and this is something the Force and the politicians need to take seriously. There’s not much point in having a recruitment drive if we cannot hold on to the experienced officers we have got.”

Key findings included:

  • 53 per cent of respondents say their morale is currently low
  • 85 per cent believe morale is low in the Force
  • 94 per cent do not feel respected by the government.
  • 66 per cent do not feel valued within the police
  • 81 per cent feel ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their overall remuneration
  • 20 per cent required medical attention after work-related violence in the last year
  • 29 per cent were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with opportunities for training 
  • 28 per cent have access to double crewing ‘at all times’ on duty
  • 83 per cent indicated that they had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.

Three out of four officers reported their health to be ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Some 44 per cent had experienced one or more sick days in the previous year, and 38 per cent indicated that at least one day of their sickness absence was due to stress, depression or anxiety. 

Steve said the results of the survey would influence conversations the Federation has with police leaders and politicians to evidence the need for better pay and conditions for members.

Read the full report.