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Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country…


Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 10:31 am

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……..but what your country can do for you. No, that’s not a misprint, it’s how I meant it.

The 20th July 2017 was a dark day in the middle of a dark era.

In no particular order as they say

Parliament broke for it’s Summer Recess.  No run of the mill business, discussions, debates.  How very convenient.

The Office of National Statistics released the latest ‘official’ crime statistics.

Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed there were 5.9 million incidents of crime covered by the survey, a 7% reduction compared with the previous year’s survey.

The police recorded nearly 5 million offences in the year ending March 2017, which represented an annual rise of 10%; this increase is likely to reflect a range of factors, which vary by crime type, including continuing improvements to recording processes and practices, expanded offence coverage and also genuine increases in some crime types.

One set says ‘Higher’, the other set says ‘Lower’ and I have seen many arguments and reasons why one should be more reliable than the other, but, even if, the Police Recorded Crime figures are discredited and dismissed, the Crime Survey of England and Wales figures are still HIGHER than Recorded Crime, regardless of the direction of climb or fall.  So Recorded Crime should surely be regarded as a MINIMUM when resources are being allocated?

The Home Office released the latest set of Police Workforce figures, showing yet another loss of officers and Police Staff.

There were 198,684 workers employed by the 43 police forces in England and Wales on 31 March 2017, a decrease of 2,237 or 1% compared with a year earlier. This is the lowest number in the police workforce since 31 March 2003 (198,375 workers).
Similarly, 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.

The number of officers in frontline roles has fallen, from 106,411 as at 31 March 2016 to 105,571 as at 31 March 2017, a fall of 840 officers (1%). Over the same time period the proportion of officers in frontline roles has remained stable at 93%.
The number of officers in local policing roles fell by 1.7% in the latest year, to 56,430. The proportion of officers in these roles remained stable, at 50%.

The most telling way I have seen to portray the Police Cuts is this, you may have seen it before, but it bears repeating

The bits in pink represent the size of the losses brought about by the last two governments since 2010.

As a little bit of fun, if anyone is curious as to how today compares with the ‘Gene Hunt era’ the long term history looks like this, fire up the Quattro

Sorry about the blue line Gene


I couldn’t find any figures earlier than 1979, and heaven only knows how accurate these are.

Between 2010 and 2016 the population of the United Kingdom increased by approx 2.5 Million.  I don’t have the figures for just England and Wales but I suspect that they account for more than half of that figure.

In short the Police are expected to deal with more crimes, more people with approx 21,000 fewer officers.

Apart from the obvious, one of the hidden problems with this is that the officers are burning out.

Returning to the title, what can your country do for you?  The government can reverse the cuts and reinstate the 21,000 or so ‘lost’ officers.  Even if they agreed to do this without reservation, reallistically nothing can change for at least a year and possibly much, much longer.

First you have to find 21,000 Graduates (more than that really) who want to join the Police for as little as £19k.

Then you have to paper sift the applications and interview the Short List candidates.

Then train them for about 4 months to get them ready for basic Street Duty.

2 years later they will hopefully be fully fledged Constables. Even Police Now couldn’t do it quicker than that.

The government need to realise that they are jeopardising Public Safety in breach of their public duty.

If Violent Crime is UP and Police Numbers are DOWN, the Population is UP, then I would say that the government, by virtue of their policy of Police Cuts, is failing in their absolute duty to ensure Public Safety.

I am in no way an authority on the subject, but I wou have thought that More People + More Crimes + Fewer Police = Government failing in its duty, but what do I know Theresa?

It is well known that the first duty of government is to protect the citizens to whom they are answerable. Few will disagree with this

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6 thoughts on “Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country…”

  1. As a serving officer I know how bad things are and the pressures on staff can be intolerable. Its difficult to find a vehicle (they are either broken or PCSOs are driving about in them), all this new fangled technology is outdated and breaks down, there is more and more accountability that means endless pages of forms and more filling in for other services – for example transporting patients to hospital as ambulances rarely turn up anymore.

    I came to the conclusion long ago that the government couldn’t care less if we have a broken police service. They have been so clever in their black propaganda campaign that many of the public have believed the spin and lies and turned against the police too.

    In some people’s opinion there was a sinister privitisation motive behind May and Winsor’s campaign against the police that had to put on hold because of the Olympic G4S fiasco as well as real fears about terrorism. They say they wanted private security guards on minimum wage doing the police’s job as it would have meant big wads of cash. Who knows if it were true.

  2. I’d like to take the Gene Hunt era comparison a little further and provide more contrast.

    In the heady days of 1979/80, after Margaret Thatcher was elected, after Edmund Davies had reported and after we were granted a substantial pay rise police numbers stabilised. Forces had been shedding mid-service staff at enormous rates prior to that. Even so in a small market town – Ruralville – in southern England we still managed to field 1+5 on nights.

    There were 55 officers stationed there then including 14 rural beat officers and the front counter was open – and was frequently used – 24/7.

    At two of our nearest adjoining stations there were more officers such that between the 3 stations on nights – covering more than 250 sq miles – there were 3+18 with up to 11 vehicles on patrol – exluding traffic, dog section and ARV’s (Yes, we had them in those days). All 3 stations had cellblocks and could house and deal with up to 18 prisoners 24/7. 2 had medical facilities and dealt with breathtests.

    The vast majority of officers lived close to their stations. Many in police houses but an increasing number were starting to obtain mortgages. Local knowledge tended to be encyclopaedic and intelligence was good and plentiful. Detections were high – proportionately higher than today – and don’t go believing the hyperbole about ‘fit-ups’, numbers fiddling and write-offs. There may have been isolated incidents of such practices but they were not commonplace as seems to be the perception peddled by those of a policing academic background. Similarly, officers were not unthinking thugs, did not beat confessions out of suspects, “verbal them up” or universally lie in court in anywhere like the numbers suggested by many armchair commentators and, indeed, by some in senior position within the service.

    Wind forward to today and the same 3 areas are largely as they were. A mix of mainly agricultural land with 3 main urban developments, a host of villages, main trunk roads, dual carriageways and motorway, industrial estates and military bases. Little has changed except the population has increased and policing cover has reduced. Radically.

    Neither of the two remaining stations is open to the public at all. Custody, depending where you are, is at best a 45-50 minute drive away. RP may be available but are regulat drawn down for serious RTI’s/FLO/Fatals. The ARV is likely to be a minimum of 40 minutes away. On nights two of the areas are jointly policed with 1+6 and not all units are necessarily double-crewed.

    Ruralville, the remaining area, is now covered from its local “hub” some 15 miles away with a single so-called dedicated unit that in reality is used almost exclusively to cover the gross lack of units in the adjoining city. Response officers have little or no local knowledge, none now live in the area and police by satnav. Knowledge of local nominals is almost non-existant and based solely on having dealt with them previously.

    To illustrate how thin policing now is in a recent incident a Grade 1 “intuders on” at premises so close to the now closed but once 24hr manned station that officers could have run to the scene there was no unit available and one had to be dispatched from the hub. It goes without saying the the intruders had made good their escape by the time the unit arrived.

    During the day the area is covered by just 5 SNT officers – effectively 1 eleventh of the manpower the area historically boasted. Their workload is such that real proactive work is limited and likely to be disjointed.

    As far as CID is concerned they are all now based at regional investigative centres and are completely snowed under. Officers abstracted from Response are being used to paper over the cracks in what was once CID but which is now just another entirely reactive unit that should be more honestly renamed Crime Response.

    None of the descriptions of current conditions will come as any news to serving officers although they might be taken aback at the numbers we once fielded. However, the contrast for the public might be so stark that my words are dismissed as exaggeration but I can assure you that they are not.

    Chief Officers and our much-vaunted Home Secretary might claim that no real comparison can reasonably be drawn because of all of the advancements the service has enjoyed (some were endured) over the last 37 years. The truth of it is that the service cannot provide either the speed or numbers required to deal with situations as it once did and as a consequence the public suffer a disservice, officers are being exposed to unnecessary risk, are being physically and psychologically exploited and are burning out. To attempt to argue otherwise is to indulge in the worse kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    The crisis in policing is now so deep that only the truth will do.

    1. Thank you for that insight Oscar, most informative, I’m obliged, even in the 70s we were cocooned in the Met and didn’t realise how things worked in Ruralville

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