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


Part of the problem, I think, is that the majority of officers of Superintendent rank and above come from a time when a much bigger proportion of the total police strength actually was on the ground, doing the job. Even if they’re told that we’re stretched, they look at the number of staff the force employs and it just doesn’t make sense to them. So they don’t believe it.


There may well be enough police – there may well be more than there ever have been – it’s just that a huge number of them are working 9-5, Monday to Friday on Neighborhood Policing or in offices, auditing and managing. We need them out on the streets, at night, at weekends, able to respond when crime actually happens.


I sit in our morning meetings, and I listen to the tactical plans being discussed, and I think, where are they getting the bodies from for all this?


You can quite often find yourself on your own policing a sizeable town. You will start with your team on a Saturday night, and you’re immediately nicking people for criminal damage, smashing shop windows, drink driving, fighting. Within an hour, everyone else is tied up and there’s only you still out and about.


One evening a while ago, I remember standing in the High Street on my own, with hundreds of people around me, thinking, ‘That’s it. All my people are gone, back in Central Custody, nine miles away. I am the only police officer left.’


Just then, my radio went, calling me to a heroin-wracked shoplifter who was threatening to stick needles into a member of staff at a late-night chemists she was trying to steal drugs from.And no sooner had that call come in than there was another, to go to a pub where the management were asking for urgent assistance because one of their people had been bottled and the guy was still there.


I stood there, literally thinking, Who is most likely to die? I decided that I had to go to the chemists, on the basis that there were bouncers at the pub and none at the shop. Luckily, as soon as I got there the offender was compliant. But I had to nick her – and that was me gone as well. In the end, I managed to get officers down from another town to transport her to custody, though they didn’t want to come because that meant their town was empty. This stuff is going on day after day, but if you talk to people at Headquarters, where the car park is rammed during normal office hours, they don’t seem to get it.


REALITY SO what is reality?


When I come on as the Duty Inspector on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night – in these times of 24/7 licensing and all that brings with it – I will have something like three Sergeants and 20 PCs on Response, plus a couple of Custody Sergeants and a few gaolers.


Available to me from the centre will be one dog unit, as long as it’s not employed elsewhere. I also have the ability to get firearms units in, if necessary.


Neighbourhood Policing have all gone home, because they work Monday to Friday, 9-5 – you know, when all the crime happens. All the squads – Domestic Violence, Car Crime, Burglary etc etc – have gone home, too, for the same reason. As have all the PCSOs, because they’re not allowed to work after dark in case they get attacked.


I’ve explained how big my area is. I have 20 PCs, split around six different reporting stations (most of which are closed to the public) to cover it. Only I don’t. The moment I start work, one of the Central Custody Sergeants will be on the phone saying that his oppo is sick so he needs a Sergeant down there – and he does need one, because they will be turning over a lot of prisoners during the night. So I’ll have to pull one


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