Morale low at Suffolk police force

POLICE chiefs last night admitted that morale among the workforce at Suffolk Constabulary was low - after it emerged that just one in five felt valued by the organisation.

POLICE chiefs last night admitted that morale among the workforce at Suffolk Constabulary was low - after it emerged that just one in five felt valued by the organisation.

But Deputy Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer assured that moves were afoot to improve the situation and address peoples' concerns.

Meanwhile, the force has also received recognition yesterday after it emerged that the quality of service had improved since the constabulary was graded as 'poor' and one of the worst in the country.

Of the 1,366 individuals who filled out a 2009 staff survey just 20pc agreed with the statement 'I feel valued by the organisation', while 50pc disagreed, with the rest having no feelings either way.

One serving officer, who did not want to be named, said: 'I am surprised it's not higher. Morale is very, very low. You don't feel you are being listened to. You feel the thoughts and feelings of officers are not taken into consideration.''

Suffolk Constabulary's total workforce is 2,525 - a response rate of 54pc.

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Of these 1,248 were police staff and a further 1,277 were police officers, with police constables making up 38pc of the respondents.

The survey is set to be discussed by Suffolk Police Authority's human resources and staff liaison committee at a meeting on Friday.

In 2008, 1,467 individuals answered the questionnaire, with 24pc saying they felt valued by the constabulary and 37pc saying they did not feel valued.

Changes in working practices have been blamed for the rise in dissatisfied staff.

Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: 'Morale amongst officers is currently low, but we are going into unknown territory with the move to response policing and other changes to working practices. Officers are bound to be concerned.

'Senior management is engaging with staff, officers and staff associations with a view to improve morale as it is recognised that a happy workforce is a productive workforce.'

Deputy Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer thanked all those who took part in the survey and assured their views and ideas would be used as a basis of a draft action plan to tackle any concerns.

'It is important to recognise that this survey has been carried out during an unprecedented period of change, which will continue in coming years as we seek to drive out further efficiencies and deliver better services with less resources,' she said. 'Expectations and demands have never been greater at a time when we are likely to have fewer resources and we accept that change and uncertainty will impact on staff morale.

'The changes are revolutionising the way we work to improve the service we provide and will lead to less bureaucracy, improved response policing and a greater ability to investigate crimes.

'All of us are passionate about the service we provide and people in Suffolk can continue to have trust and confidence in their local police force.'

Yesterday, Simon Ash, Suffolk's chief constable, praised staff after a recent assessment by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary deemed the constabulary's performance as 'fair'.

He said: 'This is excellent news - and underlines how our officers and staff are committed to providing local people with a quality policing service.

'I am particularly pleased that we have seen an improvement in the way we keep local people informed about the work we are doing in keeping their communities safe, whether through the local media, our websites or newsletters.

'However, there are still areas where we can improve. In the year ahead, we will continue to further embed the ethos of excellent customer service into all areas of our work while concentrating on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour with local councils and other partners.'

Last year, the report concluded that the constabulary was one of the worst in the country for delivering basic policing.

The report highlighted that senior officers should do more to keep victims up-to-date on the progress of their inquiries and support dissatisfied members of the public.

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