Ten years ago there were 141,859 Police Officers (all ranks) in the 43 Forces that traditionally make up England and Wales, 108,884 of that total were Constables. By 2010, when David Cameron and Theresa May came to power, there was a total of 143,734 officers in total. 109,669 were Constables. By 31st March 2017 after nearly 7 years of attrition we were reduced to 123,142 in total, of which only 95,840 were Constables. Seven years of Tory/Coalition rule had reduced the Police Service of England and Wales by almost 20,600, nearly 14.5%. Constables, the rank most members of the public will encounter, or interact with most frequently, were reduced by 13,044 or 12%.
It’s all well and good me being flippant, but what does this really look like in the real world?
A stark visualisation would be this.
All the areas coloured pink add up to equal the 20,600 officers that no longer exist. It is the equivalent of almost all of Wales and a large chunk of England not having a single Police Officer available, at any time of the day or night.
Personally I see no outrage from National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) about the cuts. The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) do not appear to have been able to persuade the government to halt, or reverse, the cuts. In fact more have taken place in the last 12 months and more are planned. The most recent published, September 2017, shows that the total strength is down to 121,929 officers.
It must also be remembered that Police Officers are not the only casualty. Police Staff (civilian support workers) have been slashed by a similar amount. Police and Community Officers slashed, Special Constables, relied upon to take up some of the duties when there are insufficient Regulars, their numbers initially rose, but know they are falling too. The total Police Workforce has been culled from 244,497 in 2010 to 198,388 in September 2017. That is more than 46,000 fewer in the workforce. How are they possibly expected to maintain standards at the same level, or improve?
All you get for less is less.
The Police Service as a whole cannot possibly sustain losses of this magnitude and continue to protect the public.
Each Operational Command Unit (OCU) should have a safe minimum set, below which they should not drop without risking public safety. I have attempted to identify what that number is for England and Wales in total. Unsurprisingly nobody wants to reveal what that number is.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that this government will not listen to Police Officers or their Federation. NPCC seems unwilling, or unable, to speak out. A few individual Chief Constables speak out, but we need to hear the combined voices of ALL NPCC members telling government of the crisis that Police across England and Wales faces. Interestingly Police Scotland and Police Service of Northern Ireland have not suffered the same problems.
The time has come for the public, or at least the majority that quietly support the Police, should write to, or email, their local MP demanding that the cuts are halted and reversed. I truly believe that nothing will happen until the public get involved. The Police are the Public, and the Public are the Police, and now the Police desperately need the help of the Public.
You can find the contact details, including email address and phone number, here.
If that doesn’t work the future is grim.