We're not trained to do our jobs properly, say police in workplace survey

Commissioner Mike Bush says there are positives in the report but more work is needed.
DAVID WHITE/ FAIRFAX NZ

Commissioner Mike Bush says there are positives in the report but more work is needed.

Overstressed, undertrained police staff say they are failing in their jobs.

But most would still recommend the police force as a "great" place to work, and are committed to the job.

The latest Police Workplace Survey found big-city cops were among the happiest, and police in rural areas among the most miserable.

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The survey also found most police did not believe the organisation was a meritocracy. Less than one-third of those surveyed said people were appointed to positions based on merit.

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Just 40 per cent of staff said the police force provided adequate training.

Bucolic Northland has the country's least engaged cops.
SUPPLIED

Bucolic Northland has the country's least engaged cops.

But the news was not all dire. More than eight in 10 staff were committed to the police force, and even more committed to the work they did.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor​ said on Thursday the survey showed "an organisation under incredible pressure".

Despite a 10 per cent increase in 111 calls each year, sworn staff numbers since 2011 had stagnated at around 8900, he said.

Police Minister Judith Collins says she's very conscious of the pressure on police resourcing.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Police Minister Judith Collins says she's very conscious of the pressure on police resourcing.

While some of the report was released in July, the full report was made public this week.

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Commissioner Mike Bush said the nationwide survey showed a small increase in engagement levels.

How small? About 0.4 per cent, from 72.1 last year to 72.5 per cent now.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle's Wellington district was among the few to show improvements in the latest survey.
FAIRFAX NZ

Superintendent Sam Hoyle's Wellington district was among the few to show improvements in the latest survey.

"It is important to listen and respond to our staff to do justice to the exceptional levels of commitment to our work that they show," Bush said in a statement.

Police in Hawke's Bay and nearby areas were among the country's least satisfied. Staff in the Eastern district, covering Hawke's Bay and East Cape, were the second-least engaged nationwide.

Of the country's 12 districts, only Northland ranked worse.

The Central district, which straddled the lower North Island from Otaki to Pongaroa and north to Taranaki, was also in the bottom half.

But Wellington District showed an improvement this year for staff feedback on "sense of belonging, well-being, and open and honest communication."

COLLINS: ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

On Thursday, Police Minister Judith Collins said she was confident police were committed to their work and genuinely wanted to engage with communities.

"They set high expectations for themselves in doing so, and feel they can always do a better job in [maintaining] the trust and confidence in the police."

Collins said police still had one of the highest trust and confidence levels of any government agency.

"​I am very conscious of the pressure on police resourcing ... 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."

NASH: COUNTRY COPS LONELY

Labour police spokesman and Napier MP Stuart Nash said too many police were getting pulled back from "community-based policing".

He said police in the Eastern district were seriously "p...ed off" with the agency hierarchy. "They're under-resourced, they're overstretched."

Generally higher job satisfaction rates in urban areas could probably be attributed to always having colleagues nearby.

"If you work in a geographically small district, you're well-connected with everyone ... You're not very far from headquarters. There's always that support there."

Police acting deputy chief executive Kaye Ryan said the survey results reflected an organisation that was doing well, but wanted to improve.

"From our point of view, our people are always wanting to do better for the public in terms of providing them with a service," she said.

"Police launched a new training model in April, before the survey results came in, that will ensure all constabulary staff are trained to the same level, which will help address staff concerns."

Police identified three focus areas after the survey. These were addressing workplace stress, developing a shared understanding of service and establishing a working group to ensure feedback was adequately responded to.

"Our people are telling us we can do more, and so we need to do more as leaders.

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

The organisation's training model was being reviewed and several initiatives were being considered to enhance officer training, Ryan said.

MOST ENGAGED, BY DISTRICT:

1. Auckland City
2. Counties Manukau
3. Canterbury
4. Wellington
5. Waitemata
6. Bay of Plenty
7. Waikato
8. Central
9. Southern
10. Tasman
11. Eastern
12. Northland

THE GOOD:

* I am strongly committed to the work I do: 88.7 per cent of total respondents
* Staff in my team respect employee diversity: 86%
* My team conducts itself in accordance with the values expected by NZ Police: 85.6%
* My supervisor behaves in a way consistent with the values of NZ Police: 84.8%
* I intend to continue working at NZ Police for at least the next 12 months: 84.5%
* I am motivated to do the best I can in my job everyday: 84.5%

THE BAD:

* People here are appointed to positions based on merit: 31.2%
* The organisation cares about staff views and opinions: 39%
* We get adequate training for the work we do: 40.2%
* Police deliver on the promises made to customers: 42.3%
* Police have appropriate ways of recognising outstanding achievement: 42.3%
* Communication in my district or my service centre is open and honest: 46.2%

 - Stuff

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