The body that represents thousands of rank-and-file police officers in Northern Ireland has said urgent action must be taken to tackle low morale.
In an independent survey for the Police Federation, 96% of those who took part said morale within the service was low.
Federation chairman Mark Lindsay described the findings as bleak, but not surprising.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it shared the concerns raised and would work to address them.
The federation has been saying for years that morale is low, and has said the new survey results provide firm evidence to support that claim.
It was conducted by an independent team of academics who also carried out similar work for the Police Federation of England and Wales.
An online questionnaire was completed by 2,527 PSNI officers, 37% of the total number.
Ninety-six per cent of respondents described morale within the police service as low with reasons including budget cuts, pensions, and internal change and restructuring.
Mr Lindsay said the results were highly significant.
“This is the first time that officers, from constable to chief inspector, have been surveyed for their views, and also the first time that the issue of morale within the service has been quantified,” he said.
“The findings are not a surprise. We have been saying this for some time.
“Up until now, all we had to go on was anecdotal evidence.
“Now, we have robust, cold hard facts which show just how low morale is within the PSNI.”
The PSNI said it was aware that morale was a significant issue for policing, especially during “challenging financial times”.
Ass Ch Con Chris Noble said it would work closely with the Police Federation on a day-to-day basis to address its concerns and those of its members.
“The majority of officer issues raised are about changes to pay, pensions and conditions that have been implemented across UK policing over the last number of years,” he said.
“Our organisation is going through a period of unprecedented change.
“We know the personal and professional impacts of change and we are committed to doing all we reasonably can to help colleagues adapt to and adopt new ways of working.”
The Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB), which monitors the work of the PSNI, will discuss the survey's findings when it meets the chief constable next week.
In a statement, a NIPB spokesperson said the PSNI has “been through a significant programme of policing reform and more recently further organisational changes have been necessary to achieve required reductions to policing budgets”.
“The fiscal picture is unlikely to change and, as such, it is important that all resources are used efficiently by the chief constable. The PSNI workforce strategy must also provide the necessary support to officers and staff in their work,” it added.
Policing Board member and Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme: “This is a real shock to the system and it's something that must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Hussey added: “If we have a survey that indicates that 97% have low morale, I think that's something to take very, very seriously and it's something we must look at – how we fund our police service.”