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07 March 2012
The increasing and pressurised workload of Police Inspectors in England and Wales is ‘not sustainable’ and is resulting in a decreasing, unhappy and dissatisfied workforce struggling to cope and manage frontline services, a major University report warns.
Professor Peter Turnbull and Dr Victoria Wass from Cardiff Business School examined the views of Police Inspectors in response to increased pressures and workloads as a result of the UK Coalition Government’s police funding cuts.
"As working hours become increasingly onerous, sick leave due to stress and over-working increases and officers won’t be applying for promotion to the inspecting ranks," according to Professor Peter Turnbull, Cardiff Business School.
"Who will perform the role of inspectors in future? With a decreasing, unhappy and dissatisfied workforce, understandably unable to cope with the demands being placed upon it, the quality of the service will only reduce and ultimately it is the public who will pay the price," he added.
Commissioned by the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Inspectors’ Central Committee, and incorporating data from an identical survey of Police Inspectors in Scotland, Time for Justice? Long Working Hours and the Well-Being of Police Inspectors examined the views of over 5,000 police inspectors to provide an up-to-date assessment of excessive working time and the impact on individual officers and the quality of police services.
"The feedback we received shows that the current workload of inspectors is not sustainable," according to co-author Dr Victoria Wass, Cardiff Business School.
"Eventually there won’t be enough inspectors to manage the frontline," she added.
The report’s key findings include:
· Police Inspectors regularly work in excess of the 48 hours limit specified in the Working Time Regulations. One-in-four Inspectors in England and Wales reported working more than 48 hours in the reference week and one-in-ten reported working more than 56 hours. In Scotland, one-in-four reported working in excess of 52 hours in the reference week and one in ten reported working over 60 hours;
· Nearly 44 per cent of Inspectors in England and Wales, and over 38 per cent in Scotland, reported ill-health which they attributed to long hours of work. The majority – 53 per cent in England and Wales and 57 per cent in Scotland – reported that long working hours had an adverse effect on family relationships.
· The Inspecting Ranks have experienced a disproportionate reduction in personnel in recent years and more responsibilities have been cascaded down the ranks to this critical level, placing additional strains on two already stretched Ranks;
· Long working hours have always been a feature of police work, creating growing concerns about the impact of excessive and unpredictable hours of work on the health of individual Inspectors, the strains this can impose on family life and work-life balance, and the adverse effects this has on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Police Service;
· While Inspectors willingly report ill-health they are reluctant to raise any concerns with their employer or indeed refuse to work excessive hours. Many more are resigned to the fact that Senior Managers won’t listen or don’t care;
· Female Inspectors in general and part-time female Inspectors in particular, find it particularly difficult to achieve an appropriate work-life balance within the Inspecting Ranks;
· Overtime pay was ‘bought out’ of Inspectors’ contracts in 1994, which creates additional health risks as workers who must endure compulsory and unremunerated overtime are far more likely to experience ‘occupational burn out’;
· There is often no accurate record of Inspectors’ hours and there is currently no incentive for either the employer or the Inspector to keep a systematic record.
The findings of the report have proved so alarming that the Inspectors’ Central Committee has now written to the 43 Chief Constables across England and Wales imploring them to tackle the problems before it’s too late.
Alan Jones, Chairman of the Inspectors’ Central Committee of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: "We issued a stark warning to Chief Officers in 2007 when we released the Well Being at Work survey where it was clear that inspectors were at risk of being over worked and on a downward health spiral.
"Unfortunately, the majority of Chiefs chose to ignore our advice and now we are faced with a diminishing, tired workforce at the end of their tether."
"Chief inspectors and Inspectors clearly have a strong commitment to their profession but the feedback suggests that mistakes are bound to happen due to long hours, fatigue and ill health caused by the stresses of the job.
"One of the most worrying things to come from the latest research is that inspectors feel they cannot bring their concerns to the attention of their chief officers because they are afraid of being deemed weak or incapable. The police service simply won’t be able to maintain a high level of public service if the rank in charge of frontline officers is on the verge of collapse.
"Currently inspectors are putting their job before themselves so it’s a matter of time before disaster strikes."
A copy of the report: Time for Justice? Long Working Hours and the Well-Being of Police Inspectors is available at: www.polfed.org.
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