Hundreds of West Midlands Police officers want to quit over low morale and pay, survey finds

More than 200 West Midlands Police officers intend to hang up their hats in the next two years or as soon as possible due to low morale, pay and Government treatment, according to a damning new survey.

West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in the region, revealed 225 felt they needed to resign from the force when they could.

It represented around 14 per cent of those who came forward to answer the survey, with the boss of the organisation calling on ministers to tackle the issues raised.

Almost all blamed morale as a reason for wanting to leave, with a similar figure citing how police officers are treated by the Government and pay as reasons to quit.

The pay and morale survey, polling 1,609 police officers in the region, also revealed almost nine in 10 believed morale across the force was either "low" or "very low".

More than half reported having low or very low personal morale, with eight in 10 having experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.

Almost all of those who responded reported that their cost of living had increased in the last month, with an increase in the price of their food shop being the most cited reason, and 88 per cent said they were worse off financially than they were five years ago.

Almost two out of 10 said they never or almost never had enough money to cover all their essentials.

West Midlands Police Federation chair Rich Cooke: “No-one in the job will be surprised by the findings of this survey but they should still be a cause of massive concern for the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Government, not least because things appear to be getting worse rather than better.

“Pay and pensions denigration are impacting hugely on my colleagues. We cannot go out on strike, therefore we should absolutely be able to negotiate our own pay through a collective bargaining process, in addition to binding arbitration.

“We’re not asking for much. You’ll never see police officers on picket lines but, in return, our members deserve fair reward for the stressful, and often very dangerous, work they do.

“They have suffered a huge real-term cut in wages over the last 12 years with yearly real reductions becoming normalised. Constables, who constitute around 80 per cent of the workforce, have suffered a reversal equating to almost a third in the value of their pay.

“This level of drop in standard of living is unprecedented and, combined with a retail prices index (RPI) nearing 20 per cent in 12 months, we are all feeling this erosion of lifestyle acutely, with increasing numbers struggling and having to work excessive, unhealthy overtime to make ends meet and to continue to provide a service to the public.

“That has an inevitable impact on officer morale and wellbeing and the whole thing becomes a vicious circle which adversely affects the service we deliver.”

The survey findings will be presented to chief constables, ministers and other stakeholders as part of the federation’s campaign for better pay and conditions and further improvements to the police service.

Meanwhile the figure for people wanting to leave the force in the next two years – who were actively seeking employment elsewhere – in West Mercia was 122, or 17 per cent of the 722 officers who responded to the survey. Across England and Wales, the percentage is 18 per cent.

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