Comment on police officer numbers

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies today welcomed news that police officer numbers in England and Wales were at their lowest level since 1985.

The news came in the latest police workforce report, released today by the Home Office, covering the twelve month period to 31 March 2017.

According to the report, 'police officer numbers have decreased in the last year, to 123,142 officers as at 31 March 2017. This is the lowest number of police officers at the end of a financial year since comparable records began in 1996. Records earlier than this are not directly comparable however, they indicate that this is the lowest number of officers since 1985.'

Richard Garside, Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said:

After the unnecessarily high and unsustainable police officer numbers in the decade leading up to the 2010 General Election, we are seeing a return to a more historically normal level of policing.

Given advances in technology and the productivity gains this brings, the current generation of police officers ought to be able to achieve more than their equivalents of thirty years' ago.

Over the past thirty years, the police have expanded their reach into a range of non-crime areas. In 2015, the College of Policing estimated that that ‘non-crime’ incidents accounted for 84 per cent of all incoming calls to command and control centres.

What is needed is a managed and strategic withdrawal of policing from those areas of public life they should not be involved in. This would allow them to focus on the serious public protection challenges that should be their core focus.

Update, Friday, 21 July 2017: Richard's comments are covered this morning by The Guardian and The Daily Mail.

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