Lincolnshire Police chief constable Bill Skelly said officers feel resources are stretched after his force was named as having the joint second lowest morale in a national survey — for the second year running.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Pay and Morale Survey 2020 received 404 responses from Lincolnshire Police. This represents a response rate of around 38%, which is larger than last year’s figure of 11%.
Some 87% of respondents said the morale within the force is currently low. 55% said their morale was currently low, while 59% said they would not recommend joining the police to others.
Only 8% of respondents from the force said they had an intention to leave the police service either within the next two years or as soon as possible – see the full report here.
Departing Chief Constable Bill Skelly, who will be replaced by Chris Haward when he retires, addressed the concerns but believes extra resources being recruited by 2023 will help have a “considerable positive impact on their wellbeing”.
He said: “During this year, we have faced unprecedented demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our officers have responded magnificently throughout this difficult time.
“They face unique and challenging situations every day and there’s no doubt that these experiences can have an impact on their wellbeing.
“The physical and mental health of our officers continues to be a priority for the force and we have introduced several wellbeing initiatives.
“Most recently, we worked with the federation to deliver an enhanced care package which supports officers who have been assaulted in the line of duty.
“However, what has come out of this survey is that officers feel that resources are stretched.
“Lincolnshire Police continues to be the lowest funded force in the country, and this understandably has an impact on our officers.
“Not having sufficient resources to deal with crime and respond to incidents often places an unreasonable strain on the workforce.
“The good news is that 166 officers will be recruited by 2023 as part of our uplift programme.
“I’m confident that the extra resources will make our communities even safer, provide resilience for our hard-working officers, and have a considerable positive impact on their wellbeing.”
The Lincolnshire Branch of PFEW described the news as disappointing but entirely unsurprising.
Barry Steele, Branch Secretary of the Lincolnshire Police Federation, said: “This is not a case of police officers moaning and wringing their hands at a time when others are losing their livelihoods and businesses are failing, this is our officers expressing their sheer frustration at being prevented from delivering the public service that our communities deserve.
“Officers need to feel that they are servicing the public rather than simply ensuring compliance with HMICFRS, the College of Policing or the internal frameworks of Lincolnshire Police.
“Our thin blue line is trying to dance with an elephant on its back, spending more effort satisfying cumbersome policy and inspection criteria rather than having the agility to directly tackle the crime and anti-social behaviour that blights the communities they serve, the communities that our officers live in”.
The report also includes questions on areas including pay and COVID-19. This data included that 42% of respondents from Lincolnshire Police said they have not received adequate training on the COVID-19 crisis from their force.