Police Federation chief blames HR inexperience for police morale slump

Too many police HR directors lack understanding of police officers’ jobs to deal with the motivation problems dogging the service, a senior figure has claimed.

Police Federation chairwoman Jan Berry said that officers were hugely demotivated as a result of home secretary Jacqui Smith’s decision to stagger the 2.5% pay rise agreed by an independent arbitration process for 2007-08, effectively reducing it to 1.9%.

Berry said that because most force HR directors struggle to grasp police regulations and conditions, they have missed the relevance of what the pay cut meant to officers.

“I do not think sufficient numbers of HR directors actually understand police work. They don’t understand police regulations. Because they come from a non-police background, they don’t understand the relevance of the pay deal, and that makes [motivation] worse,” she told Personnel Today.

Berry, who retired at last week’s Police Federation conference, said she missed the days when chief inspectors looked after HR issues, as it allowed operational experience to influence people strategy.

But Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, defended HR’s ability to deal with low officer motivation caused by the pay deal.

“Non-police HR directors are absolutely equipped to deal with motivation and morale issues. As with any sector, there will be some really fabulous HR teams and others that aren’t so good, and that’s an issue for chief officer teams to manage,” she said.

O’Connor employs experts on her team to help deal with “over-complicated” police regulations, and interacts regularly with police officers.

“HR is also a profession and it takes years of experience, learning and theoretical background. It’s not a solution just to make a police officer do HR,” she added.

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