Scottish officers have ‘very high levels of commitment to public service’

Scottish police officers and staff are “highly motivated by public service” and enjoy high levels of job satisfaction, according to a new study.

Oct 21, 2021
By Paul Jacques

In an academic survey of around 7,400 Police Scotland officers and staff they scored almost six out of seven on a measure of public service motivation, despite the “significant demands” of policing on their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

The study by independent researchers from Durham University Business School scored officers and staff an average of 5.8 out of seven (officers 5.84/staff 5.69) on the measure.

Researchers said the results suggest individuals within policing in Scotland are “highly motivated to provide meaningful public service and are personally committed to serving the wider community”.

High levels of job satisfaction were also reported by officers and staff across Police Scotland.

However, the study also found that the energy officers and staff have to meet daily demands and challenges was at a moderate average level of only 4.03 out of seven across the service (officers 3.96/staff 4.22). Low levels of energy can mean officers and staff experience physical fatigue and a sense of feeling ‘drained’ at work, researchers found.

Professor Les Graham, who leads the Policing Research Unit at Durham University Business School, said: “It is very encouraging to see that the Police Scotland workforce has very high average levels of motivation and work hard to serve communities and keep the public safe.

“While policing can be a meaningful and rewarding occupation it is also challenging and can frequently be stressful. Ensuring that police personnel feel supported and are able to recover from the demands of their work are important factors for individuals’ wellbeing.”

Other findings included:

  • Integrity identity was reported at an extremely high average level across the service, with officers and staff scoring an average of 6.35 out of seven (officers 6.37/staff 6.28);
  • Commitment to the public was high across the service at an average of 5.46 out of seven (officers 5.53/staff 5.29);
  • Job satisfaction was at a high level across the service at an average of 5.05 out of seven (officers 5.03/staff 5.1) and
  • Fatigue was recorded at a moderate level of 4.13 out of seven on average (officers 4.16/ staff 4.05).

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Officers and staff work to improve the lives of the people and communities of Scotland every minute of every day. The findings of Durham University Business School underline that they are highly motivated by public service.

“Policing is relentless and places significant demand on the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of officers and staff and I thank them for their dedication to helping their fellow citizens.

“Police leaders have a duty and an opportunity to build and maintain a service and culture founded on our values to improve the experiences of officers and staff and, ultimately, better reflect, represent and serve the public.”

Mr Livingstone added: “Investment is vital to give officers and staff the tools they need to do their jobs. We know, for example, that the support from the provision of nearly 11,000 mobile devices, provides significant benefits for their safety, wellbeing, efficiency and service.

“As chief constable, I am determined we continue to drive improvements with rigour and pace. Where efficiencies and benefits are achieved, we will invest them to support and enable our people to improve the lives of the public we serve.”

Scottish Police Authority chair Martyn Evans said: “Officers and staff are at the heart of policing in Scotland, delivering a critical public service to individuals and communities the length and breadth of the country. The intensity and pressure in policing has never been higher and the pandemic has added significant personal as well as professional uncertainly.

“Capturing and understanding the views and motivations of our people drives good workforce policy and builds an organisation and culture where physical and mental wellbeing is prioritised and people feel respected, supported and valued.

“The survey conducted by Durham University Business School provides robust data which gives current and comparable information. The results paint a picture of a dedicated workforce, motivated to provide an excellent pubic service – the Authority remains grateful to each and every officer and staff member for their contribution.

“There are a number of areas, particularly around the impact on wellbeing, where the Authority will consider in detail with Police Scotland how the evidence from this survey can be translated into actions and improvements.”

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