THE NUMBERS NEVER LIE – A possible reason for why Police foot patrols are a rare sight today.

The Government like us to believe their statistics when it comes to crime levels & number of Police Officers on “Frontline” duties and insist they are accurate. Many dispute their statistics and suggest they are “fiddled”.

Then we have reporters such as Peter Hitchens complain about the number of Officers on foot beat, accusing Police of hiding indoors and comparing the policing of Britain today with the way it was done pre 1966. He states that there is no excuse and the Police are to blame because the Police have much more officers and much less work and responsibilities. He believes that the Police no longer do such tasks as checking commercial premises…not true. He claims the numbers matter not and that there is no shortage of frontline officers.

So Peter says the numbers matter not and Government say their stats are correct. Lets take a look at these stats then shall we…

UK population 2013 – Approx 56,000,000

Number of Police Officers March 2013 – 129,584

Between 1965 and now there has been an increase of 115,042 Police Officers (not all frontline) in the UK but population has increased 14,000,000. So we have only 115,042 extra officers to deal with an extra 14,000,000 members of the public.

Out of that 129,584 only 99,779 (77%) work on what the Government define as “Frontline” duties.

Residential premises have also increased by 9.2 million (estimate in 2011 so more now) making it 25,000,000 residential premises.

Commercial premises today are estimated at around 1,800,000.


So we have;-

                                    99,779 – Police Officers

                                    56,000,000+ – Members of the Public

                                    25,000,000+ – Residential Premises

                                    1,800,000+ – Commercial Premises


99,779 Police Officers to look after 82,800,000+ People/Properties. That’s around 829.83 per officer.

Now obviously those 99,779 cops do not work at the same time. Shifts come into play which mean that a rough estimate would be around 30,000-35,000 Police officers at any one time to cover 82,800,000+ people/property.

If every bobby was working at the same time they would still be outnumbered around 561 to 1. Take into consideration shifts and it would be more like 1650(ish) to 1.

Then on top of shifts we can deduct from that 99,779 to consider numbers on annual leave, sickness, extractions such as courses and secondments, dealing with prisoners, file building, community meetings and events, council meetings, scene guards…. The list goes on and the number of cops deployable at any one time gets lower whilst population increases.

Peter also likes to say that the Police have fewer responsibilities today than in the 60’s as Police no longer guard court building, no longer check commercial premises (which is false), no longer prisoner escort (again not completely true). He gives no consideration to the following list of further/increased responsibilities police officers have these days;

Community/Parish meetings

Council meetings

Partner agency meetings

School visits and engagement

School Liaison work (crime in school)

Domestic Violence intervention

Rape and other sexual offences

Child protection

PREVENT strand of Counter Terrorism

Road Safety (34.5 million vehicles on the road not included above. That’s around 28million more vehicles since the 60’s)

Cyber crime

Harassment and Stalking



Increase in Drugs and associated crime

Adhering to PACE for stop searches etc and associated paperwork

File preparation in greater detail

The increasing number of non-police matters (civil disputes) we have to mediate or attend in order to maintain public confidence.

Much more accountable and closely scrutinised (A GOOD THING)

I know Peter will be upset to hear it but in the last 53 years Great Britain has changed. Society has hugely increased, become more diverse and as such crime trends and types have developed. On paper, we may have a lot more Police Officers than we did 53 years ago but in reality it is not really many more in comparison to population and increased workload and responsibilities.

Peter won’t admit he is wrong because he has convinced himself he is right with his one sided research which has clearly been nothing more than a scratch of the surface but he IS wrong.

Increased foot beat WILL make a big difference but not without the numbers to enable Officers to cover smaller areas and enough back at the nick to deal with processing and charging when somebody is arrested. All that would happen is Officer’s would be accused by Peter and his ilk of “standing around talking to people” (engaging with the public) whilst a crime occurred several streets away on his/her beat. And although not ideal we WOULD still need reactive investigators and policing because unless we had a Bobby on every corner, crime would STILL occur.

In an ideal world we would still be able to Police like Sir Robert Peel wanted all those years ago but as is blatantly obvious, we do not live in an ideal world.


One comment

  1. Blue Bob

    I went to a community type meeting the other day and heard an officer quote similar stuff. The public were amazed at all police have to deal with these days and were all saying ” police shouldn’t have to deal with that” over and over . I think most people have no idea how much non police duties have taken over the job and from what I heard they don’t seen to want police dealing with this stuff. Now more than ever an enquiry is needed into exactly what the public want from the police so we can start to shrug off all the other crap and get back to proper policing BUT any government who does this will then have to work out who else will do the non police stuff and they clearly don’t want to have to do that as other departments would be striking in seconds

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