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


of the skippers (Sergeants) off the street and send him to custody, replacing him with a PC as an acting Sergeant (so that’s a PC out of a crew.)


Then we’ll discover that two of the gaolers are off – one is sick and the other is on a course. So I’ll have to provide a couple of PCs for custody, too. From the shift itself, with colds and flu and sickness bugs and busted noses and courses and secondments, there will always be two or three people missing from the 20 down on paper. Let’s say one Sergeant and two PCs (that means another PC is acting-up as a Sergeant).


Another will be on annual leave. Two more will be working on MISPER enquires.


Then, as sure as eggs are eggs, I will have two officers out making an arrest and the suspect will ‘collapse’ and claim he has taken an overdose. This will obviously be a lie, but we can’t be too careful, can we, so my guys will have to take him to hospital and wait with him until he is given the all-clear. (We have to use two officers to transport prisoners now, in case allegations are made against us and for Health and Safety reasons – a lone officer concentrating on driving is too vulnerable to attack from the kind of nutters we deal with.) By the time he’s been seen by a doctor and admitted as a precaution, five or six hours have gone by and those two officers will therefore be out of action for the entire shift. As soon as he is judged fit to be released, he will be brought to the station. As soon as he gets to the station, he will claim he has ‘chest pains’. Two different officers will then convey him back to hospital and wait with him again.


This is a game, and it is happening all over Britain, all the time; I don’t think that senior officers, politicians and the media really appreciate that.


Now, the main nick’s front counter will need covering later on; civvies don’t like working there at night, because all the lunatics come in ranting and raving and trying try to take them out across the desk, so I’ll lose another bobby there. Where does that leave me, an hour into the evening? I’m down 10 PCs and two Sergeants. I haven’t even mentioned my own sickness and leave and courses, yet.


So even the 23 bodies I’ve got on paper, with which to cover 300,000 people across our vast area, isn’t reality. When we start arresting people, the very thin blue line we have shrinks further still. I’ll talk in a bit about the length of time it takes to nick people and book them in but, for now, suffice it to say that having someone in for a simple criminal damage can easily take an officer out of the game for four hours, even when the suspect admits it.


There is *Late Turn, yes, which overlaps until the early hours, but these guys have been taking emergency calls, solid, since the afternoon. They are in custody with prisoners, or waiting for solicitors or interpreters or appropriate adults, or interviewing, or calling CPS Direct**, or writing, photocopying and faxing reams of paperwork, or transporting people to mental hospitals, or at cordons at road crashes, or at people’s houses taking statements, or trying to get something to eat. They may have gone off duty sick or injured, or they may be up at the hospital getting details from a road crash victim or waiting with another ‘overdoser’, or they may be doing breathalysers, but the one thing they are not doing is waiting for me to click my fingers so they can come running.


Trust me, they are fully soaked up.


We get 3,000 calls a day in my force, spread across a number of divisions. In my patch, I have a dozen or fewer people to cover our end of it; I don’t care what the stats say, or anyone says, that is reality, that is the bottom line.


*Late Turn is one of our three shifts. Early Turn runs from breakfast time to mid-afternoon. Late turn is mid-afternoon until the middle of the night. Nights is the middle of the evening until breakfast time. There’s an overlap of about two hours between Late Turn and Nights. **CPS Direct is part of the Crown Prosecution Servic.


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