Cumbria Police is facing a retention crisis that is being driven by government treatment, pay, and low morale amongst officers, according to the Cumbria Police Federation. 

A report released by the federation in April found that 12 per cent of respondents in 2023 intended to leave the force in the next two years or were seeking new employment.

This reflects a national trend of forces across the country struggling to retain staff.

One of the main reasons for officers in Cumbria wanting to leave the force is a result of government treatment of the police such as budget cuts and a lack of engagement on issues like pay, a representative of the Federation has claimed.

Ed Russell, chair of the Cumbria Police Federation, said: "It's not just reflected in Cumbria Police, that is reflected across the country. Officers feel devalued and disrespected.

"We've got less funds available to do what we want to do and that's to tackle crime.

"Part of the thing that happens with those cuts is we sometimes have to move officers into non frontline roles, which really stresses the deployable resources we've got."

Low morale within the force, part of which is being driven by work-life balance as well as workload and responsibilities, also contributes largely to retention issues, according to the report.

The Police Federation report found that 70 per cent of respondents said that their workload was "too high" or "much too high" in the last 12 months.

Officers will have their days off cancelled, shifts will be changed at short notice, they struggle to get annual leave, and some can't stop to take a meal break, Mr Russell claimed.

"The biggest thing to address it locally is that work-life balance," he said.

"It's looking at the number of officers you've got, where we're putting them and putting things in place to make sure that people can have that balance because it's not an unreasonable thing for anybody to ask."

Officers who have been with the force for more than a decade are resigning which means that the county loses out on the skills that they bring to their roles, Mr Russell said.

But, despite this, Cumbria is still a safe place to live and visit. 

Mr Russell added: "I will just say that Cumbria is and remains one of the safest forces in the country.

"We're doing really, really well, but we are top of the leader boards in terms of what we're doing.

"So the people of Cumbria don't need to worry about their safety."

The focus for the next government, according to Mr Russell, should be on investing in policing to ease the national crisis. 

This would give Cumbria Police the funding to manage issues in consultation with the public through the Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner's office.

"We're a small rural force, we've got a challenge in geography, fluctuating population due to tourism, etc. We're not a metropolitan force.

"We need a new government to say here's a pot of money to deal with your issues."

A spokesperson for Cumbria Police said: "Police officers work every day in extremely challenging environments, regularly responding to traumatic incidents and protecting the public. 

“The wellbeing of our staff is a top priority for the Constabulary and a wellbeing strategy is in place which offers a range of support initiatives and programmes.

"A bespoke wellbeing and welfare training package is delivered to managers, that assists them in recognising any issues at an early stage.

“We continue work with the Police Federation to regularly review our approach to the wellbeing and ensure police officers and staff are provided with the appropriate training, equipment and support.”