Nearly 2,000 police officers voluntarily quit the service over the past 12 months – an increase of 31% over the past four years*.
Numbers leaving each year are rising and now a new leavers’ survey by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) provides greater insight into the reasons why. It showed:
- More than half (52.5%) cited morale as their reason for leaving
- 43.8% said it was the impact of the job on their family/ personal life and 43.3% on their psychological health
- And a staggering 69.4% felt the police service had failed in its obligation to provide pay increases to maintain their standard of living
In addition, 64.5% said they would never consider re-joining the police service after they had left.
Recent Home Office figures show there are now only 122,404 officers keeping the public safe, the lowest number of police officers in England and Wales since 1996, with a further loss of 738 officers over the past 12 months.
Ché Donald, PFEW Vice-Chair, said:
“We clearly have a problem with the retention of police officers as the numbers leaving have risen for the fourth consecutive year. We have lost more than 21,300 officers since 2010 – that’s a drop of 15% and the numbers keep going down every year. It’s like Groundhog Day. Our leavers’ survey shows that pay, morale and the effects of the job on officers’ mental and physical health are all factors in their decision to leave."
“The derisory so-called 2% pay rise awarded by the Government recently is the equivalent of around £2.50 a week – and comes on top of years of austerity. In real terms police officer pay has now decreased by around 18% since 2009/10. All we are asking is that officers are paid fairly for the dangerous job they do.”
Mr Donald also cited events like the recent Trump visit which made it harder for police officers to spend time with their families.
“Our last Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey showed the extent that officers are being brought to their knees by the extreme workloads and the stresses and strains of the job. Resilience is at an all-time low with unprecedented cuts and officers being asked to do more with less resources, all of which is having a significant impact on both their mental health and physical wellbeing. Added to that recent figures also showed that officers were owed almost 250,000 rest days, so they are getting fatigued and no wonder they say they are not able to spend enough quality time with their children.
“Policing is also unique in that unlike the other emergency services, officers are liable to have their leave and rest days cancelled at extremely short notice to respond to operational demand, as happened recently in the Wilshire poisonings, and President Trump’s visit when thousands of police were mobilised away from their forces and homes.”
The PFEW Leaver’s survey is a rolling one and launched in October 2017; these results cover the six months to April 2018 and nearly 600 took part.