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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources CHAPTER 4 CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS


The timing of the release of the information contained in the HMIC report “Valuing the police” begs the question: “How long have they known that the “Officer Visibility” levels were so dangerously low?” They must surely have had notice of this information well in advance (latest police strength numbers were known at 31st March 2009) and observers may question why the disclosures were not made under the previous administration. We can only conclude that the timing of this release shortly after the departure of the out of favour Labour Government is intended to curry favour with the new Conservative/Liberal Government.


In truth, there is no problem with that providing the new Government do something about protecting the frontline numbers. Provided they do, it will be job done.


We published a report a few months ago, after we received answers to Freedom of Information requests to all forces asking for frontline response numbers. Similarly, HMIC released their force “Value for money” profile reports in the weeks prior to the election, again suggesting that the timing was more than mere coincidence. A third such example (there are many more), shortly after the Coalition assumed office, was the media pleadings of Chief Officers that they were never in agreement with the receipt of incentive bonuses in return for reduced crime levels and increased detections. We have reported at length about the deceitful manipulation of crime statistics yet Chief Officers did not raise any objections to these bonuses during the Labour years.


Our findings following the FOI reports were that 42% of warranted officers were engaged in frontline duties were matched by those released by the HMIC a month or so later. The 42% was overstated though, including posts not normally associated with response duty. We whittled it down, giving forces the benefit in some cases to around 20%. So to see that only 10% of warranted officers are “visible” was a heck of a drop, yet more in line with what frontline officers and police bloggers had been saying all along.


The implications for public safety at these numbers are serious and frightening on a national level.


Having taken the HMIC numbers a stage further the conclusions reflect what a shambles of a legacy the NuLabour and Senior Officer coalition have left to clear up. The consequences of the low “visible officer” numbers are a perfect example of what front line officers have been saying, that the way the numbers have been presented have misled the public and the media for years.


What this illustrates most clearly, and is alluded to by Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary is that the quality of senior management must be reviewed with urgency. Whilst much of the blame lies with the previous administration, a degree of liability must rest with those Senior Officers who, knowing their resources and results, sat back and let it happen. This is a disgraceful example of how out of touch, oblivious, self serving and reckless they have been, in allowing officer and public safety to be compromised to these frightening levels.


Regardless of HMIC and Chief Officer timing, the can is slowly being prized off the can of worms. Senior Officers clinging on to the threads of hope they believe the policing pledge and other misguided schemes contained for them, is an example of how they will defend their previous actions and strategies. The lid will well and truly be off once the scandal of SMT bonuses hits the press properly and subject to the coalition Government holding its nerve in exposing the rot.


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