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A third of Police Scotland staff ‘plan to leave’

By DPF Admin6th October 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

A third of Police Scotland's workforce intends to leave the organisation within the next three years, according to a survey of the force's staff.

The survey also suggested that only a quarter of police officers felt they had the resources needed to do their job properly.

And fewer than one in 10 staff members thought the force was genuinely interested in their wellbeing.

About half of the force's 24,000 staff took part in the survey.

That figure included 8,500 police officers – again about half of the total number.

It was the first joint organisation-wide survey carried out Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The staff survey also found:

  • only 9% of respondents believed that senior managers would take action over the results of the
  • 40% of respondents stated that they were able to achieve a good work/life balance
  • 24% thought that the health and safety of the workforce was given a high priority
  • 15% felt valued and recognised for the work they do
  • 78% trusted their line manager, with 72% saying their line manager supported them if they had a problem
  • 83% said they were treated with respect by their colleagues at work

While the majority of respondents understood the need for change, 46% supported the need for it.

21% believed that the actions of senior management in SPA/Police Scotland were consistent with the SPA/Police Scotland values

The responses of police officers in many categories were less positive than those of civilian staff.

The most common factors raised by the 33% of those who said they intended to leave the force included not feeling valued, a lack of resources, a lack of genuine commitment to wellbeing, health and safety, the pressures of their job and the ability to achieve a work/life balance.

When asked what factors were adversely affecting their commitment to the organisation, 49% of the respondents who answered suggested that it was changes to their pension which had made them consider leaving.

'Issues of concern'

Police Scotland has been at the centre of controversy since the country's eight regional forces were amalgamated into the new single force in April 2013.

Its chief constable, Sir Stephen House, announced in August that he is to stand down in December – nine months earlier than had been planned.

It followed criticism of the force over the three days it took officers to respond to a fatal crash on the M9, as well as controversy over armed officers being put on routine patrol, its policies on stopping and searching juveniles, and the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody.

There have also been reports that Police Scotland was one of two unnamed UK forces accused by a watchdog of spying on journalists and their sources.

Responding to the survey, SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan said: “The results speak for themselves and we will not seek to rationalise them away.

“There are a number of very positive findings within the survey that provide reassurance and which we must build upon. There are also issues of concern and areas for improvement.

“The clear priority areas are the commitment of officers and staff to stay with the organisation, health and wellbeing, and communications. It is on those priority areas that the SPA expects a strong management response, and on which SPA will use its influence and oversight.”

He said all of those shortlisted to replace Sir Stephen as chief constable would be “challenged on how they would personally address the central issues within today's report”.

Mr Flanagan added: “A detailed response plan will now be drawn together by Police Scotland, informed by further engagement with the workforce. That will be subject to scrutiny by the authority in December, and will also be the subject of a further 'temperature test' survey of the workforce in a year's time.

“A comparable workforce survey will then be repeated in the summer of 2017, with a clear expectation of material improvements where improvement is required.”

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson said the survey showed Police Scotland had a motivated workforce who expressed a strong desire to help shape the future of the force.

He added: “Change will of course have an impact on staff. This survey makes clear that changes to police officer pensions, issues around health and wellbeing, information and communication also have an impact to staff.

“Our challenge now is to demonstrate action in relation to these findings.”

'Simply shocking'

The Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said a lack of finance lay at the heart of the “myriad of issues” the survey identified.

Its chairman, Brian Docherty, said: “That a third of respondents stated they were looking to leave the service in the near future is a cause of considerable concern.

“That more than three quarters of all police officers felt they had insufficient resources to do their job properly is frightening, and that 95% believed the service was not genuinely interested in their wellbeing is simply shocking.

“We are not surprised that resources and pressures of work, particularly in local policing, are subject to the most strident criticisms. Local policing is stretched and police officers are under phenomenal pressure. They are tired, overworked and are increasingly strangers in their own homes.”

The Unison union, which represents many of the force's civilian staff, said the survey's results came as no surprise.

Police Staff branch secretary George McIrvine said: “Unison has said for a long time that there are major issues that need addressing. The fact that only 9% of staff believe that genuine engagement will result from the survey is deeply concerning. ‎

“33% of staff indicating that they intended leaving the organisation is indicative of a workforce who feel neglected, undervalued and under stress. Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland must act on these outcomes.”

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