Morale among police staff in Wales, England and Scotland is at an all-time low, largely because of stress brought on by cuts to the service, a survey has found.
Almost 70% of the 3,335 staff, from 999 call takers to detention officers and crime analysts, cited an increased workload as the main reason why they are stressed, Unison said.
The union is calling on the Government and police leaders to review the gap between the rising demand for police services and cutbacks to the police workforce.
The survey found that more than three-quarters (76%) of police staff have felt increasingly stressed during the past year.
Some 60% blamed job insecurity for their worries, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they have seen job cuts and redundancies in their area of work since 2010.
Almost two thirds (63%) said job cuts had hit morale, while 55% suffer from anxiety, 48% say they are demotivated and 47% suffer from insomnia.
Half had concerns about lack of support from management, while 52% were worried about their pay and cost of living. A further 35% said they had a “bad” work-life balance.
The Government’s funding settlement for the 43 police forces in Wales and England in 2014/15 was announced at £8.5bn in May, compared with £8.7bn in 2013/14 and £9.7bn in 2010/11.
The total amount of central funding is projected to fall by about 20% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2014/15, as originally planned in the 2010 spending review, while officer numbers have fallen by 16,000 since 2010, the Police Federation said.
Ben Priestley, Unison national officer, said: “We understand working in the police service can be stressful, but stress levels are worryingly high. That’s bad for morale and for the public who rely on their help and support – often in very difficult circumstances.
“The seriousness of the issue seems to be largely ignored by managers.
“Government budget cuts were bound to have an impact on workers, particularly in terms of workload. Those in post are now expected to do more and cover for the roles that have been cut.
“Police leaders need to take urgent action and ensure managers and supervisors are properly trained to support their staff at a time when severe police funding cuts are damaging morale.
“And the Government needs to make realistic funding available to enable forces to deal with the rising public demand for police services.”
The survey revealed that Government cuts to police budgets have damaged the quality or coverage of police services.
Despite the concerns, nearly 60% of police staff said their force has not taken any steps to reduce stress in the workplace, while only a quarter feel comfortable talking to their manager about the issue.
Those questioned said filling vacancies and employing more staff would help to reduce stress.
Jeff Mapps, chairman of the Police Federation for Gwent, said: “The budget cuts have resulted in significantly fewer officers and, as a consequence, a greater workload on those left behind.
“It is only going to get worse as there are further budget cuts to come.
“Morale is so important for any individual to function better, and this is why it is so important to keep it high for police staff.
“But the fact of the matter is that it is not going to get better.”