Police morale now on the line

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THERE is a striking contradiction at the heart of the disastrous staff satisfaction survey conducted by Yorkshire’s largest police force. For while morale among officers in West Yorkshire has apparently plummeted to an all-time low, the official line is that their performance has actually improved.

THERE is a striking contradiction at the heart of the disastrous staff satisfaction survey conducted by Yorkshire’s largest police force. For while morale among officers in West Yorkshire has apparently plummeted to an all-time low, the official line is that their performance has actually improved.

While this is perhaps testament to the pride and professionalism of the force’s rank and file, there can be no question that this issue must be quickly addressed.

The results obtained by The Yorkshire Post of the review carried out by external consultants reveal a troubling lack of trust or confidence in senior managers.

The poll of staff revealed that 56 per cent had a negative view of the force and would not recommend it as an employer. Fewer than one in nine said they trusted their leaders.

Given the rate of change being forced upon forces up and down the country as a consequence of the Government’s efficiency programme – one that reflects the reality of a country that spent beyond its means for too long – it is unlikely that the problems being experienced by West Yorkshire Police are unique.

Squeezed resources, a reduced workforce and increasing pressure to meet targets are hardly factors that are conducive to an air of general contentedness in any workplace.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that senior managers now identify the primary source of this seemingly widespread disenchantment.

Is it the cuts? The managers? Or is it the manner in which the cuts are being managed? Whatever the answer – and in spite of the force’s current, counter-intuitive performance record – senior officers will know full well that, over the long-term, an unhappy police force does not make for effective policing, and of the standard that the public is entitled to expect.

A fresh start

Morrisons makes its first move

IT is significant that Morrisons has acted so swiftly by announcing that Tesco veteran Andrew Higginson will succeed Sir Ian Gibson as chairman of the Bradford-based supermarket just two months after the latter signalled his intention to stand down next year.

These are clearly testing times for the Yorkshire institution as the firm battles sliding sales that have been caused by a number of factors, not least the increasing influence of discount retailers and growing concerns that the standard of service is no longer commensurate with the expectations of once loyal customers.

With Mr Higginson due to start work on October 1, far earlier than originally expected, his appointment comes at a time when there is persistent speculation about the long-term position of chief executive Dalton Philips who was ridiculed by Sir Ken Morrison at the AGM.

At least Mr Higginson’s experience on the board of Tesco for 15 years before becoming chairman of Poundland leaves him well placed to provide the leadership and oversight that Morrisons requires at this critical juncture in the firm’s history.

However, Mr Higginson should take heart from the strength of public feeling about Morrisons, and which has been expressed so eloquently by those customers who have taken the trouble to write to The Yorkshire Post.

Supporters and critics are united in a desire to see the supermarket prosper – but it is apparent that their custom and loyalty can no longer be taken for granted. It has to be earned and this appointment does begin to pave the way for a fresh start to be made.

Unhealthy advice

A tasteless recipe for confusion

IF you weren’t already confused by the latest advice on healthy eating, you will be now. For years, it was recommended – with clarity – that people eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day in order.

So far so good. Then researchers announced that it takes the consumption of seven pieces of fruit and vegetables each day if an individual wanted to live longer. By doing so, Britain would conform with those paragons in Australia where its government advises its people to follow a menu of “two plus five” a day – two helpings of fruit and five vegetables.

Confused? Researchers from America and China now contend that eating more portions than the recommended “five a day” will not yield any health benefits. In short, it is a recipe for confusion that means it will be even harder, in the future, for policy-makers to persuade the obese to eat more healthily – irrespective of whether this is one, five, seven, 10 or 20 portions depending on the day of the week.