Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Police survey shows cops feel they aren't trained well enough to do their job

Calls are being made for an increase in staff after the release of a police workplace survey. Photo / Nick Reed
Calls are being made for an increase in staff after the release of a police workplace survey. Photo / Nick Reed

More than half of police officers feel they don't have adequate training to do their jobs.

Police have released their annual workplace survey which details how staff across New Zealand feel about their jobs.

In addition to 59.8 per cent believing they don't have sufficient training, 55.6 per cent felt the level of work-related stress they experienced in their jobs was unacceptable.

Just 42.3 per cent agreed police delivered on the promises they made to the community, a drop of 9.2 percentage points from last year.

Only 39 per cent said the organisation was interested in the views and opinions of its staff.

A majority, 68.8 per cent, said appointments to positions weren't made on merit and 53.4 per cent disagreed that day-to-day decisions demonstrate that quality of services is a top priority.

The belief that stress levels are unacceptable, quality of service not being a top priority and a lack of understanding of how performance is measured all increased from 2015.

A police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Herald he felt he wasn't adequately trained.

"We only train live-fire shooting once every 12 months, it's not enough at all. The main one for me is firearms, the training we do is bulls*** because it's all role-playing, but then again I can't think of anything better.

"If you think about the fact that we only shoot a gun once a year, and how often we actually deal with firearms."

He said a staff shortage was to blame for high stress levels among cops.

"It badly affects staff members ... we're rushing around to jobs and then under stress to clear the screens and do the jobs, and do them properly.

"Our job quality isn't as good as it could be just because we're under so much pressure, and then at the same time we still have to pull people over and give them tickets, do bail checks and patrolling, and then there's a whole heap of overtime as well."

He said a recent change in rosters has led to an increase in overtime, and a 30 per cent jump in staff taking sick days.

"People just don't want to come to work because they're so sick of overtime.

"There hasn't been a budget increase in five years, and we're expected to keep crime rates down, burglaries down when there's way more people, way more crime and we're getting less and less cops. That's where the stress comes from for us."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said a lack of staff was at the crux of the survey results.

"Particularly the stress, and the belief that they're not giving the public enough service, they're the two that need to be looked at.

"Even now you're getting this government acknowledging that there's a shortage of staff.

"As I travel around the country, nothing annoys police more than believing they're not giving proper service to the public, and that's what's being reflected in this survey."

O'Connor said similar sentiments were provided in the association's own surveys, which showed 80 per cent of police believed a shortage of front-line officers was the organisation's biggest issue.

"All the things they're talking about is the lack of resource, particularly in response policing who have to continually apologise for not giving the service."

Police Minister Judith Collins told the Herald she was confident police officers were committed to their work, and that high expectations were a factor in the survey results.

"The NZ Police have one of the highest trust and confidence levels of any government agency, which shows the majority of the community believe they are doing a good job."

Collins said she has been assured that police have the resources to cope with policy changes in regards to attending every burglary.

"I am very conscious of the pressure on police resourcing going forward and I have been discussing this with Police and my colleagues for some time.

"The Government has increased the number of Police by 600 since 2008 and the Prime Minister has confirmed that the Government is looking at increasing police numbers even further."

Labour police spokesman Stuart Nash said the survey results showed that police are in desperate need of more front line staff.

"The survey also shows what we already know, that our police are committed to the work they do and feel a sense of commitment to their job.

"These results tell us that staff want to deliver on their promises and are committed to crime prevention and resolution, they simply don't have the resources to deliver.

"The minister needs to stop under funding and provide police with the money needed to employ more front-line staff to fight crime and arrest criminals."

Police acting deputy chief executive for people Kaye Ryan said a new training model was launched in April, which she said will "help address staff concerns".

"Police stress levels are a concern. Our staff are put in a range of situations every day that can be extremely difficult to deal with, and most members of the public will not be aware of the extent of the situations staff are exposed to.

"With this comes an inevitable level of stress, and we encourage staff to come forward and speak openly about how they are coping.

"Our extensive Wellness and Safety network is in place to ensure employees who seek help are offered full support through our Employee Assistance Programme."

All of police's around 12,009 employees were invited to participate in the survey, which was carried out by IBM and had a response rate of 70.3 per cent.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 09 Dec 2016 14:05:10 Processing Time: 922ms