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Police Morale

Volume 588: debated on Monday 17 November 2014

4. What steps she is taking to reduce sickness and stress leave and raise morale in the police service. (906021)

The Home Office does not hold figures centrally on the number of police who go on sick leave with stress. We have a world-class police force, and the best way to get up police force morale is to support our police, and to say that they do a fantastic job and that we have the best police force in the world.

In a recent survey on officers’ morale, the Police Federation found that nearly 5,000 officers are planning to leave the service within the next five years because of pay cuts and cuts in conditions. Another survey by Unison says that 75% of police staff feel increasingly stressed. Will the Minister heed the unions’ call to review the gap between rising demand for services and cutbacks to the workforce?

As a trade unionist, I always listen to trade unions, but they are not always right. We will make sure that we listen very carefully. I have seen the figures for the slight increase in stress-related illness. We have committed £8 million to blue light services to try to help with stress and well-being. The best way to ensure that morale goes up in our police forces is for everybody in this House to support them and say what a fantastic job they do.

Does the Minister agree that one of the key contributors to morale in any job is the satisfaction of doing a good job? On that basis, will he join me in praising Warwickshire police? Over the past year, there have been 1,185 fewer victims of crime than in the previous year.

I do congratulate Warwickshire police on the 15% cut in crime since 2010. They are doing a fantastic job, and I hope to visit them soon.

The Home Affairs Committee found that morale had sunk to its lowest ebb in recent memory. Surveys have demonstrated that 5,000 police officers want to leave the police service because of low morale. Figures have shown a staggering 63% increase in duty days lost to sickness owing to anxiety, while the sickness figures more generally are soaring. Does the Home Secretary accept that, with her demanding ever more out of a police service that she has cut by 16,000, she is making police officers sick?

I get on very well with the shadow Minister, but what he has just said is appalling. He is running down the police force and the fantastic job they are doing. With less officers on the front line and less officers in the back-room staff, they are doing a fantastic job. He should be ashamed of himself, and he should praise the police.