96% of PSNI officers surveyed say morale is low

Almost every police officer surveyed in Northern Ireland has said morale is low.

Ninety-six per cent of the 2,527 officers - all facing a personal terrorist threat - who took part agreed.

The slump in spirits is because of budget cuts and other changes, a staff association warned.

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Pensions and internal change and re-structuring are among challenges facing members of the force.

Despite that, more than half of those asked felt proud of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and willing to go the extra mile, according to the Police Federation of Northern Ireland.

Chairman Mark Lindsay said: “These independently sourced and verified returns are not something that can be easily dismissed or explained away.

“They represent a significant challenge to ministers who control budgets and send a clear message to all concerned that it is impossible to do more with less without having a severe adverse effect on human beings.”

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Northern Ireland is facing a severe threat from dissident republicans opposed to the peace process who have killed police, soldiers and a prison officer in recent years.

Amid political turmoil at Stormont, the force’s chief constable has already warned the greatest impact of budget reductions imposed by the devolved justice department will be reduced recruitment.

This is the first time officers from constable to chief inspector have been surveyed for their views, the Federation said. Thirty-seven per cent responded to the online questionnaire.

Assistant chief constable Chris Noble said: “Discussing the budget cuts last year, the chief constable said that policing going forward would be unrecognisable and we are having to do more with less, which is of course a challenge for all other public-sector organisations.

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“Our service has gone through significant restructuring and change is unsettling, but we also have a significant track record of delivering meaningful change whilst still delivering for communities every day.”

Justice minister David Ford said: “I am aware of the general concerns of these officers and can assure them that I have responded to their concerns as positively and constructively as possible within the current financial constraints.

“Society at large must respect and support that service, and I am pleased to note that many of our officers are proud to serve in the PSNI.”