Web site messages show erosion of morale

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 12:00am

MORALE among expatriate police officers is dwindling according to messages posted on a new Web site set up by the 200-strong Overseas Inspectors' Association.

The site - the first to be posted by rank-and-file officers - was discovered by the Sunday Morning Post and is filled with officers' complaints about diminishing job benefits and prospects.

Some claim they are being discriminated against while pursuing postings and promotion.

'According to my lads, my colleagues, my bosses and even the civilians I work with, all of them are unhappy and very disappointed with not only the force management, but also the administration in general,' said a message signed 'Gweilo in the Mist'.

A 'Tolerated White Trash' even suggested the Overseas Inspectors' Association be disbanded 'in a most public way' to let the Police Commissioner face the fact that he was 'in danger of losing the confidence of his overseas officers'.

Chairman of the association Steve Handley confirmed the site had been created a month ago to improve communication among members.

In response to calls for disbanding the association, Mr Handley wrote back: 'This association will continue until we are down to a single-digit membership.' He said the number of overseas inspectors had dropped from more than 270 in May 1998, when he took over the chairmanship, to 240. 'We are losing an officer every month,' he said.

'Morale is a problem. Some feel they are badly done by. Sometimes we pursue issues through formal channels, but progress is slow and sometimes suppressed. We're very concerned about the erosion of our benefits.' He said a slight sense of isolation was brewing among expatriate officers, although they were as dedicated and integrated as locals.

One officer's message alleged that the commander of the Airport Security Unit allegedly said in 1998, when seeking staff for three posts, he was worried that if there were too many expatriates in the unit, they might all suddenly leave to take up private-sector security jobs and create a shortage of experienced staff.

A police spokeswoman said the force had been informed about the existence of the Web site.

Mr Handley posted a set of Web site rules last Wednesday, restricting members from airing personal grievances and posting defamatory or rude remarks. Anonymous users must inform a committee member of their identity immediately.

Some contributors said they preferred anonymity because they did not trust the management and the topics discussed were 'too close to the bone for some who may be looking in'.

One said: 'Freedom of speech, my boys, does not come without a price.'