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


The total for officers working within the “Community” function, at 63,845 is somewhat misleading. As we now know, the function includes Community Safety Officers, Response and Neighbourhood teams. The roles and responsibilities of these officers vary from force to force, but it should be remembered that many of these officers do not respond to calls from the public. Referring to the Home Office function definitions in Appendix A:


1. Community Safety/Relations – Operational - Staff who predominantly undertake community safety work, including community relations, schools liaison, crime reduction, youth offender teams, closed circuit television or visual aids unit. Staff who are predominantly employed as Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction or Architectural Liaison Officers, or dealing with repeat victimisation 2. Community Safety/Relations – Operational Support - Staff who predominantly support staff undertaking community safety work (including Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction and Architectural Liaison Officers). Include analysts and administrative assistants.


Whilst their role is undoubtedly important, it could be argued that the numbers of these officers and staff should not be considered response officers responding to calls from the public.


Referring again to Appendix A definitions:


1. Foot/Car/Beat Patrol – Operational - The ACPO Working Group on Patrol settled on the definition: "The overt presence, whether on foot or mobile, of a locally accountable uniformed police constable who provides public reassurance and who is approachable and available to ensure an appropriate response from all the resources of the police service, to the needs and demands of the general public". Thus, include staff who are predominantly assigned to operational patrol in uniform either on foot, on a pedal/motor cycle or in a motor vehicle (includes 'Home Beat', etc). Also include Task force/support group/territorial patrol. Do not include traffic and motorway patrol (see 54) and members of dogs’ sections (see 22). Officers of supervisory rank who perform patrol duties, e.g. shift supervisors, should be included. Local beat/home beat officers should be included. Specials should be included. Do not include recruits undergoing training on modules 1 - 7 (see 46).


By way of illustration, if we take the national total of officers averaged across the three shifts, of 14,113 officers and multiply by 4 to account for the three shift patterns and rest days/annual leave etc, we arrive at 56,452. This would appear to be a more likely total number of “Visible officers” assigned to response type duties.


Until the bureaucratic mountain is removed, those officers who are actually assigned to public facing roles, spend as little as 1 hour out of a typical eight hour tour of duty on patrol. Perhaps a more accurate picture would be obtained by multiplying the numbers of visible officers by the hours they are actually visible!


Taking the national average of 14,113 officers potentially on “visible” duty for a given shift x by 8 hours produces a total of 112,904 possible visible hours of policing in England & Wales for each shift. Home Office figures show officers in 2007/08 spent just 13.8 per cent of their time on patrol. The proportion of time on the beat has dropped by almost ten per cent in just three years while the amount of paperwork has risen by the same proportion, despite the previous Government pledges to slash red tape.


Using this percentage, out of 112,904 potential visible hours, visible policing equates to 15,581 hours, or to put it in perspective, 1.1 hours per officer per shift spent on patrol.


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