Police culture survey finds ‘pockets of serious negative behaviours’

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo / Dean Purcell

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has promised a reset after a culture survey found “pockets of serious negative behaviours”.

An organization-wide survey in April aimed to assess workplace culture after two years of Covid-19.

It followed the “Bullying, Culture and Related Issues in New Zealand Police” report which was released by the Independent Police Conduct Association in March 2021 and found “significant elements of bullying” in some workplaces.

The latest survey showed 76 per cent of staff enjoyed their role, 71 per cent felt able to be themselves at work and 70 per cent felt the police was a great place to work.

It also showed 53 per cent of women felt the culture was improving, compared to 44 per cent of men.

However, there was a decline in the number of staff who felt valued and supported.

Half of non-sworn employees believed they were not treated the same as constabulary staff.

A third believed the organization tolerated workplace bullying or harassment, with about 40 per cent being personally affected in the prior year.

And 44 per cent disagreed promotion was based on merit and 34 per cent believed favoritism was happening in their work environment.

Constables consistently had a more negative impression of police culture than all other ranks and non-sworn staff, with the most senior officers tending to have the most positive assessments of the organization’s culture.

In a statement prefacing the topline summary, Coster said “a reset is needed” following two years of policing with Covid-19 which left staff feeling they were overstretched.

“Our people want to get back to the basics of our core business which is preventing crime and harm and ensuring our communities are safe and feel safe,” Coster said.

The survey showed modest improvement in reducing bullying and most staff felt strongly positive about their roles and their relationships with colleagues, he said.

Four areas would be focused on in response to the survey: managing frontline demand, investing in development, including “addressing pockets of serious negative behaviours”, valuing staff and engaging with staff.

The Commissioner and executive would visit every district and service center this year to hear directly from frontline staff, Coster said.

About 35 per cent of eligible police staff responded to the survey.

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