Readers will be aware that HMIC together wiuth the Audit Commission, have issued two reports this week, confirming what front line response officers have know for a long time, that regardless of the increase in police strength over recent years, that the civilian and support staff to frontline officer ratio is completely out of kilter.
The frontline numbers have progressively reduced to a point where it risks the safety of those visible officers and the general public too.
Our latest report, takes the HMIC and Audit Commission reports much further, exploring the officer to population and officer to recorded crime ratios, which have previously been massively understated by the Home Office under the previous administration.
The consequences are dire to say the least, with officers dealing with ten times the population size and ten times the crime incidents previously disclosed. To see our report click here.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's report 'Valuing the Police', Policing in an Age of Austerity, published yesterday, shows that only 11% of the police are visibly available to the public. HMIC warns that with looming budget cuts, the availability of the police to the public will be even further reduced, unless there is a total redesign of the police. Also yesterday, the Audit Commission and the Wales Audit Office published a joint report with HMIC - 'Sustaining value for money in the police service'.
In our previous reports on response numbers part 1, part 2 and part 3 we have warned about the low frontline officer numbers. Now that the HMIC & Audit commission reports have confirmed that the actual “Visual” officers available for frontline policing is as low as 10% of the total warranted officer numbers, we have taken the percentages provided by HMIC and applied them to population and crime incidents to arrive at the real picture of police officers available to respond to public calls for assistance.
The findings are alarming.
To see our latest report, taking the HMIC and Audit Commission report further click here.
The report looks at each of the 43 police forces, the population within their area, the policing strngth and latest recorded crime figures.
Previous Home Office publications have suggested that each police officer is reposbile for 376 members of the public (on a national basis) and deals with 30 recorded crimes. Multiply these numbers by ten and you would be closer to the real story revealed in this report. Applying the "visible" officer numbers to the population and recorded crimes reveals the frightening true picture of policing in the UK in July 2010.
HMIC must have had notice of this information well in advance and observers may question the timing of the release shortly after the departure of the out of favour Labour administration, and that its release at this time is intended to curry favour with the 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 issued Freedom of Information requests to all forces asking for frontline response numbers. Some of the replies were unbelievable, with one force even categorising their Assistant Chief Constable as a “response reource” because he’d been involved in an arrest during the year! Clearly officers not available for frontline visual response duties as part of their normal tour of duty are not usually available to deal with calls from the public.
The 42% of warranted officers for the frontline number we arrived at initially, matched that 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 and officer 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. That Senior Officers, knowing their resources and results, sat back and let it happen 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.
Times are changing thankfully, and regardless of HMIC timing, the can is slowly being prized off the can of worms. Senior Officers clinging on to the threads of hope they believe the pledge contains 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.
A few highlights from our previous report about the cuts are increasingly relevant:-
- Police Force Governance – consolidating ACPO, APA & NPIA SAVE ??? Millions
- Police Force Mergers – saving predicted by HMIC £2.25billion (over 10 years)
- Chief Officer Restructuring – consolidation of ACPO ranks SAVE £11million
- Chief Officer Restructuring – consolidation of SMT ranks SAVE £80million
- Remove Chief Supt & Chief Inspector ranks (alternative to mergers) SAVE £12million
- Increase constable to manager ratio (recruitment cost savings) SAVE £169million
- Increase sergeant to inspector ratio SAVE £178million
- If ratio of 1 frontline staff to every officer of management rank SAVE £1billion
- Police staff levels halved through mergers SAVE £1.3billion
- Police staff overtime halved by mergers or tighter control SAVE £31million
- Return 25% of office based police officers to frontline (recruitment savings) SAVE £670million
- 25% reduction in police staff support numbers SAVE £500million
Yes there will be pain, but far better that than continue to risk the lives and safety of over stretched officers and members of the public who actually deserve a better quality of service.
The first challenge for the new Home Secretary and her team, is to root out those senior officers who have been singing off their own self serving hymn sheets for far too long.