Warning that police morale has plummeted

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POLICE WARNING: £20 lock picks used to break into vans across Hampshire

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MORALE among police officers has sunk to its lowest level in two decades, Hampshire Police Federation has warned.

John Apter, chairman of the organisation which represents rank and file officers, said some are so disillusioned that they are questioning whether officers should be legally allowed to strike.

His warning comes as think-tank The Policy Exchange reveals Hampshire Constabulary officers received an average £2,159 each in overtime during 2009/10 – its lowest average for nine years, bucking the national trend.

The force paid a total £8,091,000 in overtime to officers last year.

Mr Apter said: ‘The reality is that officers have to work tremendously long hours to earn these high figures and I think there are a tiny proportion of officers who earn the figures quoted. In many, many cases, officers aren’t asking to do the overtime – they are being told they have to.’

As reported in The News, up to 300 officers and 700 staff posts are to be axed as Hampshire Constabulary battles to save up to £50m by 2015.