Around 20% of police officers are considering quitting the job because of low morale and rates of pay, according to a new study.
The annual survey was conducted by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which represents 130,000 officers.
The findings show that 19% say they cannot meet their bills.
A PFEW chief said the results reflected the “anger and disillusionment” of officers up to the rank of Chief Inspector.
The PFEW chairman Steve Hartshorn said: “Police officers are reaching breaking point and are leaving the service in their droves as every element of their pay and conditions has been gradually eroded in the space of a decade.
“Record numbers are resigning over inadequate pay and conditions. We are losing some exceptional officers simply because they cannot afford to stay in the service, with an alarming number unable to afford monthly essentials.
“The latest figures indicate 8,117 police officers left the service in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022 – the highest number of leavers since comparable records began, and at least 1,800 of those officers who joined under the Government’s Uplift Programme have already voluntarily resigned.”
Officers are resentful they have had t cover for striking 999 workers at a time when they are banned from taking industrial action themselves.
Mr Hartshorn said: “The results of our survey clearly illustrate the anger and disillusionment of police officers across England and Wales.
“Many have stopped expecting any recognition from the Government for their unique responsibilities and the restrictions imposed on their industrial rights which is, quite frankly, dangerous.
“Being able to protect the public effectively rests on a knife edge.
“Without sufficient investment in policing, we will see a further detrimental rise in resignations, and officers will not be able to keep up with the new technology innovations criminals use, will not be able to stretch resources to attend all crimes, and, ultimately, will not be able to keep our communities safe from the rise in violent crime.
“It is paramount the service is provided with long-term investment, instead of single-year settlements to futureproof the service. The Government must listen and not ignore the needs of the service because they do not have the right to strike.”
The Home Office said: “Policing is a career like no other and we need officers to keep communities safe and cut crime. We are injecting record funds into policing and giving officers the support, training and powers they need to crack down on crime.
“The Government remains on track to deliver its pledge to recruit 20,000 police officers by March 2023. The overwhelming majority of new recruits recently surveyed report positive job satisfaction and want to remain officers for the rest of their working lives.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council’s spokesman Martin Hewitt said: “The Police Federation’s survey gives us valuable insight into officers’ views.
“Police officers work in an extremely challenging environment and are frequently exposed to traumatic events.
“In recent years, they have had the added pressures of policing the pandemic, as well as responding to an overall rise in crime levels when society reopened. Officers today are also increasingly responding to non-policing issues, such as assisting those in mental health crisis, or requiring other health and social care support.
“It is clear that this demand is having a worrying and increasing impact on the wellbeing and morale of our officers and staff. Leadership at every level of the service must acknowledge this and ensure that our officers and staff are recognised and valued for the work they do.
“In real-terms, officers’ pay lags behind where it stood in 2010, and it is out of step with current rises in the cost of living. We are urging ministers to fund meaningful and fair pay increases that properly reflect the important and complex work police officers do.
“In future years, it is essential that pay awards are fully funded and not only keep pace with inflation but allow officers’ earnings to catch up – recognising the contribution officers have made and continue to make to keeping us all safe.
“Views from across policing, including the results of this survey, are used as part of submissions to the independent body which considers police pay every year.
“Police chiefs take the wellbeing of officers very seriously. We will continue to work with staff associations, including the Federation, to address the important issues identified in this survey.”