A ban on taking annual leave and rest days on Ipswich Town match days is contributing to low officer morale at Suffolk Police, according to a staff survey.

A new report by the Suffolk Police Federation, which looks after the concerns of officers, says 93% of officers who responded to a survey said morale in Suffolk Police was currently "low" or "very low".

The head of the federation says part of this has been down to time off not being approved or cancelled due to match days.

Suffolk police say resources are "carefully considered" for each match which has seen Portman Road packed with attendances close to 29,000. 

In addition according to the federation's Pay and Morale Survey, around a sixth of respondents said they intend to resign from the service, and for those wanting to leave, the greatest reason was morale.

Darren Harris, chair of Suffolk Police Federation, said: “Police officers are under huge pressure. In Suffolk this has been compounded throughout autumn and winter 2023, and into spring this year, by the inability of the Constabulary to be able to resource football matches without cancelling our members' rest days and putting in place annual leave bans on match days." 

The federation's pay and morale survey report found that 86% said that they have "never" or "rarely" been able to take an 11-hour break between shifts in the last year.

Adult workers are entitled to 11 hours of rest between each working day, and one rest day in each working week.

Mr Harris said: “When many of our members get very few weekend days off anyway, this has, and continues to have, a huge impact on their morale. On top of this, we have seen years of budget cuts which have decimated police officer numbers but we saw no corresponding reduction in the demands placed upon them."

Deputy chief constable Rob Jones said: “We value the insight this survey gives and we continue to work closely with Suffolk Police Federation and staff organisations to do whatever we can to help our officers and staff.

Ipswich Star: Suffolk police's deputy chief constable Rob Jones.Suffolk police's deputy chief constable Rob Jones. (Image: Archant)

“We are always assessing to see what more we can do to provide support for those who are finding things challenging or are in difficulty.

"Indeed, we are currently running a force-wide survey for officers and staff to gain insights and data into what people are thinking and feeling within our organisation – the feedback that provides will help us understand what possible changes we can make to benefit everyone.

“We understand we need to do everything we can to maintain officer welfare and wellbeing and Suffolk’s senior leaders are determined to continue doing that.”

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman added: “Suffolk is fortunate to have a football club on the ascendancy and looking for promotion to the Premier League for next season.

“Nearly every match is a sell out with attendance close to 29,000 and as such police have a key role to play in keeping people safe.

"This is not a responsibility placed solely on the Constabulary and we work closely with the football club and other partners to discharge this responsibility.

“The policing resources is carefully considered for each match by experienced police commanders and wherever possible we provide officers with as much notice as possible of these duties.

“Sometimes decisions have to be taken at short notice. These are difficult decisions and are not taken lightly and we are always acutely aware of the upheaval this can potentially cause to them and their families.

"Their support and understanding is always very much appreciated.

"The positive feedback we get both from home and away fans reflects on the professionalism and community policing approach from our officers and how what they do is appreciated by those attending matches.”