8 Nov 2010

Bullying survey 'under-reports' problem

9:30 pm on 8 November 2010

A former officer says he believes more police staff are affected by bullying than has been shown in the organisation's latest workforce survey.

It is the first time the annual survey has asked staff directly about harassment or discrimination at work, and almost one in five respondents said he or she had seen or experienced it in the year to May.

Andrew Harland, a former constable, fought a seven-year employment battle over treatment he says ruined his career.

Mr Harland says he has been helping other officers deal with workplace harassment since his out-of-court settlement in 2008.

He says bullying can involve verbal abuse, unnecessary criticism, changes to someone's roster, or the blocking of promotions and transfers.

Police Headquarters says work is already under way to protect staff and help them report misconduct without fear of reprisals.

The survey is the third since it was established as a result of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, which was wound up in 2007.

Altogether, 18.7% of respondents admitted to witnessing or experiencing harassment or discrimination, with 13.2% of those saying it was not dealt with effectively.

Police human resources manager Alan Cassidy says it is the first time the survey has provided such specific information.

In all, 77.1%, or 9280, of all police staff participated in the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5%.

Confidence survey

Meanwhile, a survey indicates people's confidence in the police force has increased for the second year in a row.

More than 9300 people were interviewed for the police's Citizens' Satisfaction Survey in the year to June.

Three-quarters said they had a lot or full trust and confidence in police, up from 72% a year ago.

However, the percentage was down from the 79% two years ago.

People also reported feeling safer in their communities this year, with 70% saying they felt safe or very safe in their neighbourhoods after dark, compared with 66% the previous year.