Morale ‘rock bottom’ among police

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MORALE among South Yorkshire police officers is at ‘rock bottom’, according to the Police Federation which represents rank-and-file officers.

Neil Bowles, South Yorkshire federation chairman, spoke out after Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new pay deal for officers aimed at saving £150 million a year.

Basic pay will stay the same and extra incentives will now only be focused on specialist staff and frontline officers, which the minister accepted would leave some disappointed.

Officers are facing a four-year pay freeze, increased pension contributions and are losing some allowances which have traditionally boosted pay.

But the deal will see officers working night shifts awarded more pay than officers working days.

The move comes on top of work by South Yorkshire Police to save £42 million over four years due to Government budget cuts.

Its latest budget, for the current financial year, suggests more than 1,100 police staff will be lost over the period, including 100 police officers this year.

Newly-appointed chief constable David Crompton, who starts in the post in April, has admitted one of his main roles will be to manage the reduced funding, but he is ‘keen to maintain frontline numbers’.

Mr Bowles said rank-and-file officers were angered by the pay deal.

He said: “Officers are upset and angry because they feel they are being unfairly treated above and beyond the rest of the public sector.

“There are a lot examining their finances and working out if they can still afford to pay their mortgages.”

He said there was concern police pay and conditions would impact on the candidates who apply for jobs in the future.

Mr Bowles said: “If we are to attract the right people into the job, you have to pay for the best people.

“Morale has been at rock bottom for some time and this is not going to help.

“This has to be taken notice of because the welfare of staff is important. With officer numbers reducing and those left taking more stresses and strains we need to keep a healthy, fit police force or we will buckle under.”

Announcing the pay deal, Mrs May said it meant jobs would be saved.

She said: “Policing will remain a well-paid job.”