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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources Figure 12


The contrast between the significance given to the logistics of public order policing, (which are done well) compared to the management of availability to the public in neighbourhoods could hardly be sharper. Major businesses set store by smart logistics, supporting their units on the ground with a dynamic analysis of what is needed at any time. Given the spectrum of operations and dependencies in policing, an improvement to the systems for matching supply to demand is overdue.


There are, however, complexities in modern policing that did not arise in previous generations. For example, response officers may live a considerable distance outside their force area, have second jobs and only be available part-time.


A number of forces have introduced single patrol (or single crewing). It is apparent that there are varying degrees of resistance about putting this policy into practice, yet there are clear benefits to the public in doing so. A senior police commander said:


“All our officers are more than capable and adequately trained to go out and engage with the public on single patrol – which makes them far more approachable and familiar”


Specialisation


The prevailing influences in the policing system – the priorities and incentives from the centre – have had the effect of focusing force attention on increasing the capacity to deal with particular, specialist risk functions. To illustrate this, an organisational chart of a large urban Basic Command Unit (BCU) is attached (see Appendix D). This shows the range and complexity of policing functions it is required to perform.


These include having a problem-solving sergeant; an anti-social behaviour unit; an information manager; partnership teams; public protection (child protection); and a range of intelligence and analytical functions. This presents a dramatically different picture of a police division compared to 20 or 30 years ago. This is a reflection that in a growth environment functions can become roles and indeed provide a more sophisticated and comprehensive service. But in the difficult times ahead such provision may not be sustainable and a return to a more multidisciplinary workforce may be inevitable.


The investigation of serious collision on our roads illustrates the change and growth of specialist functions. In the 1970s a traffic or uniform response officer would deal with most aspects of the investigation of a collision. At best, he or she would have done a “drawing plans” course. Now a team of officers utilising sophisticated equipment and representing a number of disciplines will investigate such incidents. Whilst the number of officers dedicated to roads policing has dipped in the last 5 years, the investment is still significant. Even a small force can have around 20 such officers.


The trade-off from growth in specialist units has, in many places, been a reduction in the number of warranted officers available to the public. Figure 13 identifies a swing over the last three years away from community policing28 towards specialist units and investigative roles. It shows that there were 1,429


28


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