22% of police are unhappy

Almost a quarter of serving New Zealand Police officers are unhappy in their jobs and another two-thirds are merely going through the motions, a survey has found.

The $187,500 survey - the result of a recommendation made during the commission of inquiry into police conduct after the Louise Nicholas case last year - reveals a police service in which many are "psychologically absent'' from the job.

The Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, obtained under the Official Information Act, showed only 13% of police staff were loyal and committed to the job, compared with a quarter of New Zealand's working population.

At the other end of the scale, 22% of police were so unhappy in their work they were "psychologically absent'' and insisted on sharing their unhappiness with colleagues.

Key areas that stopped officers from doing their best revolved around a heavy workload, lack of staff and resources and poor management.

A separate survey of CIB staff, completed months before the audit of sworn and non-sworn staff, reflected similar results.

The overall findings mean the New Zealand police force has been ranked in the bottom quartile of the 455 organisations surveyed throughout the world in the past three years.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the findings came as no surprise to officers, who had expressed concern for years.

"You can't fix a problem until you acknowledge it... and that is the real positive for us that has come out of this because we really struck a bit of denial [in the past].''

Police management, although surprised by the findings, have accepted the results and plans are in place to improve things - starting with three key areas.

They are giving staff more recognition for work well done, ensuring officers have enough resources to do to the job and improving the trust staff have in the organisation to be fair to all employees.

"I think, for a lot of us, it was quite sobering... but not daunting,'' public affairs general manager Michael Player said.

Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope said New Zealand's police force was the first in the world to be audited by Gallup and the survey would be a "powerful tool for driving and measuring changes in police culture over time''.

National Party police spokesman Chester Borrows called for Police Minister Annette King to reassure officers she would urgently address the situation.

Mrs King said the survey was a matter for police to comment on but it was a benchmark for the organisation to measure itself against in the future.

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