More than two-thirds of Bedfordshire police officers say morale has taken a major hit during coronavirus crisis

And around 62 per cent of respondents said they would not recommend joining the force

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 2:49 pm

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on police officers in Bedfordshire has been laid bare in a major survey, as more than two-thirds say morale has taken a major hit during the crisis.

The Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector across England and Wales, has published the results of its annual Pay and Morale study.

It found that of 355 respondents from Bedfordshire Police, 67 per cent – more than 200 – felt the Covid-19 pandemic had a "negative or very negative" impact on morale this year.

67 per cent of police officers felt the pandemic had a "negative or very negative" impact on morale this year

However, overall morale had slightly improved on last year's figures, according to the force.

Asked whether they had received sufficient training on the Covid crisis, 28 per cent said no, while 34 per cent said they did not have adequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed.

The study also revealed 11 per cent of respondents in Bedfordshire intend to leave the force within the next two years, or as soon as possible, with 10 per cent of those citing Covid-19 as having had a major impact on their decision. Low morale was a factor for 70 per cent, while pay and benefits fuelled the decision for 48 per cent.

Around 62 per cent of respondents said they would not recommend joining the police.

Chief Superintendent Karena Thomas, head of people and workforce development for Bedfordshire Police, said: “The wellbeing and morale of our people is incredibly important to us, and even more so when we are dealing with the challenges of policing in the face of a global pandemic.

“The data from Bedfordshire is very much in line with the national picture, however even during such a challenging period, we have seen a slight upturn in morale since last year’s report. I am really pleased to see more officers taking the time to complete the survey which shows an improved engagement; up to 28 per cent from 12 per cent last year, and against a national average of 20 per cent.

“We recognise that we are operating within a very challenging environment for policing, and we are investing heavily in our workforce to improve both the work environment and officer retention including health, wellbeing and other support services. We have created a department specifically aligned to the development and needs of our people so that they can continue to look after our communities.”

However, 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."

Mr Apter added that officers are also dealing with their own worries about the virus, and the fear that they may take it home to their families.