Belfast Telegraph

This is a grossly unhappy yet committed workforce

By Mark Lindsay

For some time now we have been aware of significant issues which were being constantly raised by the men and women who make up the PSNI.

Levels of disquiet and unhappiness were talked about, but there were no cold, hard facts to back up concerns.

Now there is ample evidence on the table, and it makes for worrying reading. In an unprecedented survey, 37% of federated ranks - from constable to chief inspector - gave voice to their fears and criticisms.

The as-we-see-it survey of 2,527 officers pointed to an organisation with significant challenges. If this was a factory floor survey you would have to conclude this is a grossly unhappy workforce.

A headline figure of 96% said PSNI morale was low. More than seven out of 10 said the same was true for personal morale. And for officers who had experienced a great deal of change, low morale peaked at over 97%.

Yet, 55% felt proud to be in the police, and a similar majority said they were willing to go the extra mile. That is commitment.

More than three-quarters did not feel they were fairly paid considering the hazards, stresses and strains of the job. More than half the respondents said their workload was too high and had increased in the past year.

Of particular concern is the fact that only 8% feel valued in the organisation.

Constant change within the sector, detrimental pension reform, minimal or no pay rises, mayhem with rosters and time off and increased bureaucracy in the most accountable police service in western Europe all contributed to the way officers feel.

There are challenges here both for the PSNI and the politicians in charge of budgets. It is a physical impossibility to do more with less - you can do your best, but the public will not get the service they have a right to expect if everything is cut to the bone.

I have already discussed our findings with the Chief Constable and have made the Justice Minister aware of the feedback.

What is needed is an action plan to address deficiencies and fix what is wrong.

Officers are not robots. They are human beings with families and deserve better treatment. Right now, the word 'normal' does not exist for them.

  • Mark Lindsay is chairman of the Police Federation

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