South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings has responded to findings in the 2022 Police Federation of England and Wales Pay and Morale Report, released today.
Dr Billings said: “The police service nationally shares in the mix of low morale and anger that is currently affecting almost all our public services – teachers, doctors, nurses, care workers and more.
“Many of the underlying causes are the same: a decade of underfunding, pay that has fallen way behind inflation and a government that does not seem either to understand public services or value them or care about those who work in them.
“If 94% of officers feel that the government does not respect them, it is not surprising if this affects morale.
“While Covid and the war in Ukraine have added to the misery, many of the root causes go back to the period of austerity that began with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition and has continued under successive Conservative governments.
“There has been no long-term planning and a year on year running down of police numbers.
“Only now is the government seeking to put back the 20,000 that were cut – but is still not giving Police and Crime Commissioners the funding needed to maintain these numbers in future years.
“During the austerity years the damage was done to policing: criminal gangs expanded their drug markets, not least through county lines.
“Police officers who are burdened with a big case load and cannot get to a victim of crime as quickly as they would like, are as frustrated as a paramedic who is trying to get a patient to hospital – and the causes of both are similar: years of underfunding.
“During the decade of cuts to policing, other public services were cut and much of what they previously did fell to the police. These ‘non crime’ activities have been added to policing remorselessly – finding children missing from children’s homes, responding to people in mental health crises, and so on.
“Too often the police – a 24-hour service – became not just the service of last resort but the service of only resort.
“The cost-of-living crisis affects police officers and staff like everyone else. The disastrous mini budget that led to increased borrowing costs and steep rises in mortgages was the last straw.
“Although some South Yorkshire police have been treated badly and disrespectfully by some members of the public, a recent survey I conducted indicated considerable support for the police and an appreciation of what they do to keep us safe.
“This year is a crunch year for public services, including the police. The consequences of years of neglect have become clear and we cannot carry on like this.
“The police – and other public servants – deserve decent pay and conditions, proper national plans and funding for the future, and appreciation and support from their government.”