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2021 Pay Survey - Blog by PSA President Paul Fotheringham

Following the results of the most recent PSA / SANI pay survey, PSA President Paul Fotheringham has shared his thoughts on the concerning picture of police wellbeing this reveals:

In almost 30 years of policing, I have never known the relationship between the government, the police and the public to feel like this.
We’re now at a stage where the morale and motivation of our members is the lowest it has ever been, mirroring the picture shared by the Police Federation.

How have we got here?
Our Police Service was built on a tenet of policing by consent and it is what has made our Service the envy of many. The damage to public trust in policing seen in recent months therefore shouldn’t be underestimated and we have a duty and an obligation as a Service to do all we can to fix this.
We have no right to take a defensive tone when faced with the appalling stories of misconduct, prejudice and criminality we have heard. The actions of these people are indefensible. 

There is however another side to this story – and that is the impact felt by the thousands of police officers and staff who are themselves hurt and betrayed by the actions of a minority.

If we then consider the relationship between the government and the police, the picture gets even more complex.
On one hand we see ‘the police’ as revered community-focused, career-driven individuals at the heart of a major government recruitment campaign, and on the other we see the government refusing to take simple steps to ensure fair pay, pensions and wellbeing.
When it comes to legitimacy, we have a clear, unquestionable responsibility to regain the confidence of our communities. However, we also have a duty of care to the overwhelming majority of police officers and staff who work and live to the highest levels of ethical standards. These officers and staff are feeling betrayed, appalled and disheartened by the despicable actions of others who share their badge, yet have caused their legitimacy to be questioned.
These same officers and staff are also feeling hurt and devalued by government. Hundreds of retiring officers simply cannot access accurate pensions after decades of Service, police pay is not keeping pace with the cost of living, and the government is repeatedly ignoring its own processes to ensure fairness in how these decisions on pay are made. We have engaged with the government on these matters via formal processes and have written directly on the current issues impacting officers but have received no response.
Our members are a major part of this picture. Superintendents have a high level of responsibility and lead major criminal investigations alongside day to day management of their forces. It is therefore deeply concerning to see through our recent member survey, that morale and motivation amongst superintendents is the lowest it has ever been. Almost 80% report low morale across the service and just 40% report high personal morale – the lowest of any year since we began our annual survey in 2015. Only 39% would recommend joining the Service to others – lower than any other year and only 41% feel valued, also the lowest figure of any other year.

If we consider this alongside the results of the recent Police Federation survey, showing that only 14% of respondents had high morale and that 67% would NOT recommend joining the service – this is a wellbeing issue that our Service and our government can’t ignore. Superintendents and their teams are tasked with delivering the government’s Beating Crime Plan, and the largest ever policing recruitment drive at a time when they are telling us they have never felt less motivated or valued.

It is telling that despite this, 85% of our survey respondents say they are proud to be part of the police, and I am confident that if a member of the public asked this question of an officer they meet on the street, they would get a similarly positive response. It is a privilege to be a police officer, something I know I feel and something my father felt during his 30 years of service. 
I believe we can rebuild trust where it has been damaged, and I believe that the silent majority of the public continues to believe in us. 

We’re nothing without our people however, and now is the time to mirror our determination to repair our relationship with the public, with a determination to value and care for our people.