A survey looking at police morale carried out by the Police Federation shows that approximately two thirds of staff in Yorkshire’s four police forces have felt the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted on spirits.
West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Brian Booth said that a Government cut to police pensions this year had left many staff feeling cheerless, while dealing with incessant breaches to restrictions during the pandemic has been a “constant grind”.
Results from the Pay and Morale Survey published on Friday showed that, of 817 respondents, 66 per cent of West Yorkshire Police staff felt the pandemic had either “negatively” or “very negatively” impacted on how they felt about their jobs.
Some 65 per cent of the 492 South Yorkshire Police staff who took part in the survey, and 60 per cent of both the 346 North Yorkshire and Humberside Police staff also agreed their morale had taken a hit this year.
Mr Booth said: “We’re not going to get any sympathy from the public. Everyone is suffering and officers are aware of that and that they’re lucky they’ve got their jobs.
“The real issue here is that the Government, on one hand, is clapping them and saying ‘well done keep up the good work’, but on the other hand it’s failing to recognise that when it comes to the important decisions.”
Changes were made this year to public service pension schemes in efforts to make them more affordable, which has resulted in less money going in to staff pension pots despite a recent 2.5 per cent pay rise for those earning less than £24,000.
“Police pay is about more than just our wages, it’s about pensions too,” Mr Booth added.
Across England and Wales, 59 per cent of those polled would not advocate joining the police, amid a national recruitment drive to hire 20,000 officers.
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation, called the survey results “a cry for help” from police officers across England and Wales.
He said: “These results should give serious concern to chief constables and to the Government.
“This year, more than ever, officers have been put under significant pressure, dealing with the day job as well as policing the constantly changing Covid rules. Despite doing their very best, they have been turned into the villains of this pandemic by some, damned whatever they do, and this constant criticism takes its toll.”
Mr Booth added that having to break up gatherings and parties and issue fines was a “constant grind” and expressed concerns that criticisms about the way some forces had dealt with rule-breakers was harbouring disrespect that would continue long past the end of the pandemic.
“Officers haven’t been dealing with deaths on the wards, but we have on the frontline.
“Many are being put in difficult positions telling people they can’t see their families and friends and what we’re being met with in response is anger and abuse, but we don’t write the rules.”
The Home Office praised “brave police officers and staff” who have worked “heroically to protect the public during the pandemic”, adding that anyone, including police, has access to coronavirus tests if needed.
The department was contacted for further response.