20 percent? 15 percent? 10 percent?
Combined percentage of officers and PCSOs
visibly available to the public at different times in two sample forces
click to enlarge
Well, according to a report (pdf) just released by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC), the actual amount is likely to be just 6.4 percent. According to the above diagram from the report approximately half of all police officers are anyway deployed away from the "front line" on other matters (e.g. investigation, intelligence, and various bureaucratic functions), 42 percent just aren't rostered for duty at night, and of those who are 2 percent are off sick, on holiday or on restricted duties -- leaving just 6 percent to man the 'thin blue line' on our streets. Strangely almost double that number (11.3%) are available at the rather less crime-filled time of 9am on a Monday morning...
The report also goes on to explain why so much police are now deployed away from the front line:
"In seeking to reduce every risk to the public and possibility of error, all police officers’ work has increasingly become controlled by rules of good practice or guidance. In 2009 alone 2,600 pages of guidance were issued to officers setting out how their work should be done; and there are now 100 processes in the criminal justice system, requiring 40 interventions by police officers, staff and specialists. The cost to policing is estimated at £2.2 billion per year. The effect has been to draw resources into investigation, intelligence and other specialist functions, and away from the public: the number of warranted officers working in these areas increased by 3,000 over the last four years, while the number working in the community declined by 1,400."To illustrate this point the report helpfully includes another diagram demonstrating just how much 'guidance' the average police force receives annually from the policing quango, the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA):
Apparently in just 2009 alone there were 52 guidance documents produced by both the NPIA and ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) comprising more than 2,600 pages and over 250 recommendations. All of this just goes to show that the current model of policing were priorities are set centrally from Whitehall and require endless police paperwork and box-ticking is drawing ever larger numbers of Police Officers from the front line where we need them. As I have already written, the North Wales Police Authority is in favour of the status quo -- I say it's time to try something different.
UPDATE: A commenter writes "I read somewhere as well that we have never had such a high ratio of Police to general Public. If that is true, why are tey unable to attend burglaries etc, and try not to attend car break-ins at all." You are right, the below chart from the same report, shows that we do currently have record numbers of Police and PCSOs:
|Click to enlarge|
There has been a 50% increase in police officers over the past 40 years, and a fourfold increase in other staff, including PCSOs. Yet, ironically, more and more police are being re-deployed away from frontline services.