THE morale among officers of scandal-hit South Yorkshire police following a report into child sexual exploitation is the lowest in the country, a new survey has revealed.
The force came under fire during the inquiry into the Rotherham sex abuse scandal - where it emerged that 1,400 children were abused in the town over a 16-year period.
South Yorkshire Police’s former Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright resigned in the wake of Professor Alexis Jay’s report into the widespread abuse, which found that authorities had failed to act after hundreds of young girls were abused.
The force has also been in the national spotlight at the inquests into 96 Liverpoool football fans who died at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.
Now a national survey has revealed that of the 503 South Yorkshire bobbies who took part, the force has the highest proportion of officers complaining of low morale.
The survey, carried out by the Police Federation of England and Wales, found that 98 per cent of South Yorkshire Police officers felt that morale within the force was low, with the average for the police service as a whole 90 per cent.
One quarter of South Yorkshire officers questioned said they were undecided about their future with the service.
Increasing workloads, poor pay and a lack of career options were among the reasons cited for low morale.
Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said he was not surprised by the results of the survey.
The force has lost 600 police officer posts in the last eight years because of Government funding cuts and by 2020 police chiefs estimate there will only be 2,000 officers – 1,300 less than in 2007.
But Mr Bowles said he understands that new research commissioned by South Yorkshire Police suggests that there was now a ‘siege mentality’ and a feeling of ‘ we are all in it together’ as the county’s bobbies battle on.
“I expected that morale would be among the lowest in the country. Some people just want to find a way of getting out of the job, it has got that bad,” he said.
“The senior command team is trying to keep things going but it is external factors that are affecting morale - the budget cuts and legacy issues for example.
“The child sexual exploitation investigation is also playing its part and that will go on for a long time.”