Custody roles seen as the 'worst in policing' survey shows
Custody roles are seen as the ‘worst jobs’ in policing a new survey has revealed.
Nearly a quarter of all custody officers told the survey they want to be redeployed away from detention duties as soon as possible.
That figure is up from the 19% who said they wanted to quit the role last year.
The Police Federation of England and Wales says the results of its survey back up the perception that custody is the worst job in policing.
To put into context, just 2% of Firearms Officers and under 8% of Detectives said they wanted to move roles.
The PFEW’s annual pay and morale survey included custody-specific questions for the second year running. More than 27,000 police officers, nearly a quarter of all ranks from constable to chief inspector, took part.
Nearly three-quarters (72.2%) of officers currently not in a custody role say they would never want to do that job.
Andy Ward, PFEW Deputy General Secretary and National Custody Lead, said: “Custody has always been a hard-to-fill role and, with it being one of the most challenging areas of policing, the situation is not improving.
“If anything goes wrong there are potentially serious ramifications, not only for the detainee but also for the officers involved who often face lengthy and traumatic investigations, putting their careers on hold and placing them under the threat of losing their job.
“The responsibility is immense – from ensuring detainees’ rights and welfare are being looked after, to also mitigating the additional risks posed by complex vulnerabilities such as mental health issues, alcohol or drug dependencies, as well as making key decisions in the criminal justice process that affect both the liberty of suspects and the safety of the public.”
Other results from the survey revealed that 89% of custody officers said they were not paid fairly considering the stresses and strains of the job and 82% felt financially worse off than five years ago.
Speaking ahead of the PFEW’s National Custody Seminar Mr Ward added:
“Our survey also shows that 58% of custody officers said they had low personal morale and 50% said they were unhappy with training opportunities.
“So, it is unsurprising that there is a reluctance to work within custody when, despite the specialist nature of the role, not only is the investment in the training and development of staff inadequate but, like many officers in frontline roles, they also feel poorly remunerated given the high-risk nature of the job.
“When there are organisational failures, too often individual custody officers are blamed, and it can feel like the worst job in policing.
“Shrinking budgets across partner agencies like the NHS and social services means that too many detainees with vulnerabilities can end up in a police cell, which is an inappropriate setting for people with complex needs.
“These are the people most at risk in detention, but the problem needs to be looked at holistically, bringing together all the relevant agencies and ensuring there are proper resources available to keep detainees safe.
“This should not just be a police problem, it should be everybody’s problem, but the current situation makes being a custody officer a very unattractive option indeed.”
For more information visit;