South Yorkshire Police officers ‘voting with their feet’ to leave the force

Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles, who is based at Maltby Police Station.
Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles, who is based at Maltby Police Station.

Police officers in South Yorkshire are ‘voting with their feet’ and leaving their jobs – partly as a result of low morale, it has been claimed.

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said 80 officers left the force last year without taking a pension.

He made the comments after a national survey by the Police Federation said 15 per cent of officers are planning on leaving the service within the next two years.

Officers said low morale and the impact of the job on their health and personal or family life were factors in their decision.

Mr Bowles said the feelings of officers in South Yorkshire reflected the survey.

He said: “The internal South Yorkshire survey confirmed morale is even lower than it was last year.

“People are voting with their feet. Last year, more than 80 officers voluntarily resigned without a pension to go on to something else. That is something I have never heard of before.

“People are fed up and seeking better-paid jobs.”

He said so many officers left the force last year, new officers will have to be recruited, despite the ongoing cuts the service is facing.

The national survey of 32,598 officers across England and Wales showed 70.2 per cent of officers felt morale was low, compared with 59.1 per cent in the 2014 survey in 2014. But 53.1 per cent said they were willing to go the extra mile for the police.

And 78.2 per cent said they could count on their colleagues for friendship and support when needed.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “This survey provides strong evidence of the parlous state of officers’ morale.

“This should sound a warning to those who run the service, all the way from the Home Office, to the College of Policing, to the chief officers whose job it is to lead forces through what is an incredibly difficult time for all those in policing.

Mike Penning, policing minister, said: “Officers will continue to retire earlier than most public servants and pensions will continue to be among the best available.

“These are just two of the reasons voluntary resignations have remained at just 2 per cent or less in recent years – far lower than other workforces in both the public and private sectors.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is a priority for us and we manage this through our own staff surveys, focus groups and feedback internally.

“We also work closely with the Police Federation, union representatives and our occupational health department to ensure we do everything we can as an organisation to support our workforce.”