Listening to recent results of how Wiltshire Police officers feel about their job, their morale and general state of mind causes me great concern.
Hearing people’s lived experiences are often very, very, different to what you think you know. I talk to our frontline officers regularly and these results aren’t surprising given the last six months Wiltshire Police has had – and how policing is regarded generally at the moment.
But we can’t just look at one element of these survey results in insolation.
Everything I, and my office, have been working on in the last few months – getting the right person for our next Chief Constable, the police precept and ensuring we have a budget that balances investment with efficiency, increasing performance, looking at strategic leadership and culture issues – is inter-connected with improving morale.
I heard an interesting quote this week: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. And it’s so true!
We can have all the strategies, plans, documents we like but if our workplace isn’t in a good place, our standards and culture is off balance then we must acknowledge it will have direct impact on those working for the organisation.
Why does this matter? Why aren’t we just getting on with policing?
Well, if we have more happy, satisfied, officers out on our streets – if they are staying in their jobs longer than a few years – then this ultimately has a knock-on effect on our communities, on the police service being delivered and it will contribute to Making Wiltshire Safer – the primary goal of both Wiltshire Police and my office.
Someone said this week that policing had been trading on the goodwill of its officers and staff for quite a long time – it is now time to redress that imbalance.
One good area to start would be to tackle pay – I believe police officers deserve to earn a decent salary – and Wiltshire Police deserves to have a fairer slice of the central government pie.
And that’s why I will be adding my voice, along with other PCCs, on both of these issues at a national conference in a few weeks’ time.
We all know lobbying for change takes time and that is why, in the meantime, I will be focusing on this – and how to tackle the root causes of these worrying results – over the coming months with our current leadership and our incoming new Chief Constable.
It has been a busy start to 2023 for us all.