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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources


Best case scenario is that only 11.4% of warranted officers, from a total pool of 143,769 would be available as a visible policing presence. For greater accuracy, in the reports that follow in the next section, we identified the force as larger or smaller (by population, officer numbers and recorded crimes) and then multiplied the officer numbers by the HMIC percentages to arrive at the visible officer numbers per force for the three shifts given.


To illustrate how visible policing has declined in recent years on 18th March 2007 The Sunday Telegraph claimed in “Just one in 58 police is patrolling the streets” that:


“Of the 81,877 officers who patrol, including detectives and traffic police and neighbourhood teams, only just over 17,000 will be on duty for an average eight hour shift, when shift patterns, holidays and sick leave are taken into account. The figures show that officers spend only 14 per cent of their time actually on patrol, so that 2,400 are out and about at any given time”.


This means that just 1 in 58 of a record number of police officers is patrolling the streets at any given time.


People hear about a record 143,000 officers and it sounds a lot, but the reality, as these new figures show, is quite different. The (Labour) Government obsession with targets and data collection, as well as the failure to provide an effective system to share information, has resulted in officers spending less time on the beat and this can only be at the expense of the public.


Figure 6 Total police officer and staff strength in England & Wales 31 March 1994 to 31 March 2009


Year


2007 2009


Strength


140,514 142,151


Patrol


81,877 63,845


Visibly On Duty in any one 8 hour shift


17,000 14,113


Percentage of total officers on duty at any one time


12% 10%


Using the numbers from the above table for strength, it can be seen that the visible officer numbers have declined sharply in a mere two years between 2007 and 2009, indicating the level of urgency that now must be applied to restore minimum levels of safe policing where it counts most, on the frontline.


Note: Slight variances in strength numbers are witnessed between recent HMIC reports and Home Office statistics. There are even variances with the Home Office online document and spreadsheets from whence the data is sourced. These are due to rounding of numbers or the difference between head count and FTE (full time equivalent) numbers. The variance is slight (less than 1%).


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