Just What Have The Tories Done To Policing?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since 2010 to be honest. My opinions have never been favourable to the Tories, but apart from the constant, ongoing, reduction in officers I’ve never really put many numbers to it.

I fear that is about to change, but to be easy you, I hope to achieve most of what I have to say with some pretty pictures.

The whole of this project was sparked off by the finding of a government briefing paper on Police Service Strength, dated October 2018, so relatively up to date.

The first item that really boiled my piss was when I saw how well the Tories had truly protected the Front Line, as they have constantly claimed to have done.

Really? Protected the Front Line? We know that this government and previous administrations since 2010, have culled about 22,000 Police Officers from the overall strength. How does that look nationally? Post Code Policing I would call it.

In numbers, it looks like this. How does your Force fare?

How do we fare against our European counterparts? We must be in a quite healthy position surely?

 

European Police Officers per 100,000 head of population

24th out of 27? Is that where we want to be? Is that where we ought to be? Why are we so close to the bottom?

How are we faring at home?

The population of England and Wales is rising, as you may expect

Population of England and Wales 2003-2018
Officers per 100k head of population

So, as we can see, as one goes up the other goes down, quite markedly. Not very good really.

Well, that’s not looking too good so far, the Front Line has clearly NOT been protected, the population increases every year, with the number of Police Officers having been slashed by about 22,000 it is no surprise to see that the number of officers per 100,000 head of population is falling. What is absolutely staggering, and unforgivable is where we stand in comparison to our European neighbours.

How have we come to be in this situation? What is going on in the Police Service? Somebody on Twitter posed the question about crimes per 100,000 head of population. I can’t show that information on a map but I’ll do what I can.

Crimes per 100,000 Head of Population 2002-2017

As I see it, the crime rate was steadily falling until about 2011 and then it has more or less continued to rise ever since. At the same time as the number of Police Officers per 100,000 head of population has been steadily falling. Could there be a connection?

So where have all our Police Officers gone? What has befallen them and who is left behind?

Police Service Age Bands 2007-2018

The youngest age band (under 26) took a bit of a dip but then started to come back in about 2015. The most significant change is in the reduction in the 26-40 band, where, arguably, most of the experience is located. That started to decline in about 2010 and hasn’t really recovered. The Police Service is hemorrhaging experience and the numbers are really only slightly offset by the resurgence in younger officers, with less experience. Numbers are down 22,000 and those left behind have less experience.

Anything else going on with the ‘Leavers’ of note or interest?

Police Service – Routes Out 2006-2018

A bit busy and memuddled this one but one thing is clear that after an initial drop, numbers of officers leaving began to climb again from about 2010 onwards with 2015-2018 seeing record numbers leaving the Service.

In an attempt to inject some clarity I have separated the different exit routes to see more clearly what is going on.

Death In Service 2006-2018
Dismissal From Police Service 2006-2018
Medical Retirement 2006-2018
Normal Retirement 2006-2018
Voluntary Resignation 2006-2018

You’ll be pleased to know that’s the last chart/infographic for today. What do these last 5 tell us about officers leaving the Service? Fortunately the incidence of Death in Service seems to be falling and hopefully will continue to do so. Voluntary Resignations were falling but began to climb again about 2012 and seemingly continue to do so. Worryingly Dismissals began to rise steeply about 2012/13 and remain high. Is this a coincidence or an indication that IOPC/IPCC/DPS/PSD have been complicit in reducing numbers to satisfy the Home Office? I don’t know, but I don’t like the graph. Medical Retirement also shot up after about 2010, is this another way of getting rid of officers who would otherwise have been kept on, to appease the Home Office? Again, I don’t know, but I’ll ask the question. Bizarrely Normal Retirement is all over the shop, I have no explanation for that whatsoever, maybe you can suggest one.

In conclusion, to answer my own question, I believe that, put together, all of the statistics demonstrated above indicate a systematic running down of the Police Service that started under David Camoron and Theresa May and continued under the current Prime Minister and assorted Home Secretaries. Crie is Down, Police Reform is Working clearly doesn’t wash. Police numbers are down, crime, however you measure it is up, and the public have a very much thinned-out and depleted Police Service. The Primary Duty of any government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. I dare to suggest that the combination of charts above categorically demonstrates that this government are NOT ensuring the safety of its citizens. I haven’t even touched on Knife Crime this time round, but that is at horrendous levels at the moment with no support from Central Government for the support and tactics that the practitioners believe will be effective and work.

Since Camoron and subsequently May came to power in 2010 we have lost


  • approximately 15% of our Police Officers
  • approximately 40% of our Police and Community Support Officers
  • approximately 25% of our Special Constabulary
  • approximately 21% of our Police Support Staff
  • approximately 650 Police Stations or Public-facing Front Counters
  • An unknown number of miscellaneous buildings and vehicles

Can we really expect our Police Service (or any other Public Sector organisation) to continue to function at the highest levels in the face of such stringent cuts? There is no capacity for proactivity any more. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, initiated these cuts and then issued a diktat demanding less Stop and Search. Crime is rising, we have fewer officers and our politicians are interfering making sure that we are less effective in maintaining Law and Order. Officers are getting burnt out, many have committed or contemplated suicide or self-harm, almost every Force in the UK owes its officers thousands of hours in overtime and re-rostered Rest Days. This is simply neither sustainable nor good for the health of the workforce. NPCC and government try to convince us that they are concerned about Mental Health, but I see no practical evidence of that fact, just words.

That it is my idea of what the Tories have done to the Police Service. It is my belief that the government cannot even begin to challenge my figures above as, with the exception of SOME population statistics, every single one has been lifted from official Home Office publications or government briefing documents compiled by the Office for National Statistics. You, the reader, can agree with me, or disagree, I don’t mind either, but the argument is certainly worthy of discussion. If not challenged, where will it all end?

Reversing the cuts since 2010 is just the beginning. Crime has risen, demand for Police has risen, numbers have been reduced and those that are left behind have arguably less experience (absolutely no disrespect intended). We need to get back to a situation that is better than 2010 but recruitment and training are not achieved overnight. The government, and others, seem to think that Direct Entry, Police Now and a ‘Healthy Churn’ are the answer to this crisis. I beg to differ. It will take years, and for that I blame David Camoron, Theresa May and any Conservative MP that has voted for these cuts and failed to challenge them. It is a National Disgrace.

That is what the Conservatives have done to our Police Service, once the finest in the world, but sadly no longer.

The State Of Policing 2017 Style

The date is March 2010. David Cameron has yet to win the General Election and form his ‘victorious’ coalition government.  What does the State of Policing look like?

Firstly, and,  easiest to answer, we have a full compliment of Police Stations, Canteens, Helicopters, Dogs and Horses etc etc. Nobody has yet started to sell them off in the name of #Austerity or reduce their numbers and effectiveness.

England and Wales can boast 143,734 Police Officers.

There were 16,918 PCSOs and 15,505 Specials.

79,596 members of the Civil Staff were available to assist and back up the Police Officers etc with their Admin tasks.

The total number of crimes according to the Crime Survey of England and Wales was 5,900,760. (Due to lack of reliable data for 2010 this is a ‘guestimate based on data that is available). For the Calendar Year 2011 CSEW records 6,878,190 crimes in total.*

Police will attempt to apprehend anyone suspected of being involved in crime, whatever their method and behaviour.

There are no accurate figures available online for Stop and Search in 2010/2011 due to the passing of time, but there were 1,009,126 in 2012.

The population of England and Wales was approx 55.6 Million.

Direct government funding to the Police was £9,022 Million.

David Cameron was the Leader of the Opposition.

Theresa May was ‘just’ the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Tom Winsor was ‘just’ a solicitor.

Fast Forward to 2017

There are now 123,142 Police Officers keeping us safe.

They are assisted and supported by 10,213 PCSOs and 13,503 Specials.

There are now 61,063 members of the Civil Staff.

Police no longer pursue criminals on motor bikes or mopeds as their bosses have banned the practice in case the poor things come off their bikes and get hurt.  They could, of course, just stop, but why would they when they know they can get away with it?

For the Calendar Year 2016 the Crime Survey of England and Wales records a total of 6,040,726 crimes.*

The latest official figures (mid 2016) give the population of England and Wales as 58.3 Million, an increase of almost 3 Million, or nearly 5%.

Direct government funding to the Police last year was £6,727 Million, reduced by about 25%.

By the end of 2015 615 Police Stations or Front Offices had been closed and a further 125 were earmarked for closure by 2020.

Police Dogs, Horses and Helicopters had all been cut back as being ‘too expensive’ with scarcely a thought to how effective they can be.

David Cameron has been Prime Minister and has now quit politics for good.

Theresa May has been Home Secretary and is now Prime Minister

Sir Thomas Winsor is now Chief Inspector of Constabulary, HMIC, despite never having been a Police Officer at any rank.

ACPO has been wound up and replaced by the National Police Chiefs Council.

College of Policing and Police Now have come into being to ‘transform’ the Police Recruitment and Training processes.

Compare the two scenarios above.  This is basically what the Tory Reforms of Policing have resulted in. How much good news is there? Anything that we can build on and improve for the future. Is the State of Policing looking secure and fit for future challenges?

Maybe there is somebody out there who could do a similar comparison for the NHS, Armed Forces, Prison Service, Education, Probation etc etc. All combined together in one place would make a mighty history of Tory Reform.

* Crime Figures quoted DO NOT include Anti Social Behaviour, Fraud or Cyber Crime

Doing More With Less

Never forget that we have to do more with less, it is the en vogue diktat.

Speak to any Police Officer, Doctor, Nurse etc and they will tell you how they are doing more.

How do we know that they are doing it with less though?  Because the government tells us?

Not exactly.

The latest Police Strength statistics were released recently, showing that in the 12 months to end of September 2105 the Police Service strength had been reduced by a further 1,893 officers or 1.5%. almost all of that number in the second 6 month period, March to September.

A few lucky Forces managed to bucjk the trend and actually recrtuited a positive number in the second 6 months of the year;

  • Cheshire – 21 Officers
  • Lancashire – 24 officers
  • Northamptonshire – 9 officers
  • Warwickshire – 27 officers
  • West Mercia – 72 officers
  • Bedfordshire – 14 officers
  • South Wales – 45 officers

Everybody else lost officers.

The 43 Forces have also lost a total of 1,062 or 1.7% of their Police Staff in that year, 960 or 7.5% of their PCSOs and 722 or 4.3% of the last bastion, the Special Constabulary.  ALL DOWN.

The ‘good news’ does not end there though.

I submitted FOI requests to the 43 Forces to enbquire how many Police Stations have been closed between 2010 and 2015, and how many more were earmarked for closure in the next 5 years.

I have received meaningful replies from 39 of the 43 Forces.

Dorset, Durham and West Midlands don’t seem to want to reply and the idiotic Northamptosnhore Force refused, despite the fact that the information was available in the local paper.

In England and Wales, between 2010 and 2015 at least 605 Police Stations have been closed, or at the very least, closed to the public.

A further, minimum, of 125 have been earmarked for closure by 2020.

So, there you are boys and girls, that is how we are doing more with less, much less, and it keeps on going.

300

This is Sparta.

If only, but it is about numbers, so if you don’t like numbers you’d best leave now.

Firstly, the 300, but actually it’s closer to 500.

Gideon’s announcement said that the government would now protect the Police, a complete U Turn, brought about, in no small way I’m sure, by his and Camoron’s desire not to have a Paris style incident on their watch.  I watched his entire speech, wondering how big the number would be, 10%, 25% or even 40%?  Then it became apparent that the number was ZERO.

Don’t be fooled by that though.  A lot of damage has already been done and there is at least some in the pipelines already in motion and presumably can’t be stopped.

I haven’t had all the results in yet but at least 500 Police Stations and/or Front Counters have been closed down, with many of those having been sold off.  500 is an incredible number and make no mistake Gideon’s change of heart will not bring them back, probably NEVER.  He has stopped the cuts and that’s as far as he’ll go, no reversals.

With just about two thirds of the results in, there have been almost 500 Police Stations and/or Front Counters closed in the last 5 years, with a further 100 earmarked for closure in the coming 5 years, although it remains to be seen what their fate is after Wednesday’s announcement, although I suspect that the closures will go ahead.

On those figures it’s not unreasonable to assume that nationally around 600 Police Stations and Front Counters will have closed with a further 130 or so due to close.  That is a staggering amount in my book.  Don’t be fooled into thinking “it’s just a building” the repercussions are many and varied.  Extra time, distance and cost in transporting prisoners to Custody.  Extra time and distance before Officers arrive at their patrol destination.  The inconvenience to members of the public wishing to report a crime, hand in or claim an item of Lost Property, chat to a friendly Neighbourhood Officer about whatever their problem is.  The clsoure of Front Counters is, I find, a tad ageist, it disproportionately disadvantages the more elderly of our population.  Those more infirm, unwilling or incapable of travelling the extra distance.  In my own area it’s a half hour drive to get to the nearest Police Station still open.  Two buses and about 2 hours each way from my own home.  Move things further away, make them more difficult to access, demand reduces, Reform is Working,  QED.

I hear people, mainly politicians and journalists,  saying that the Police Service should modernise, and, within limits, so it should, but we also have to take into account the needs and abilities of the public we serve.  I’m not sure that the government have done that so far.

I have consciously ignored the myriad of ‘surgeries’ that have cropped up at Tesco or Costa Coffee, they offer the chance for a ‘cosy chat’ but are hardly an appropriate choice for going to report the latest outbreak of Domestic Violence or dispute with a neighbout.  Very little in the way of confidentialty.

Finally today, I shall bamboozle with some Home Office figures, hopefully clarifying Theresa May’s spin on Stop and Search.  I’ll try to keep it brief.  I’m only going to refer to s1 PACE stops or we’d be here all day.

In 2013/14 there were 900,129 Stop Searches, in 2014/15 there were 539,788, shortfall of 360,341 or 40%.  Stop and Search down 40% in a year, a good thing?  Mrs May thinks so.

Of those Stops, in 2013/14 there were subsequently 108,161 arrests which went down to 74,680 in 2014/15, a reduction of 33,481 or 44%

The bottom line is that in 2013/14, 12% of Stop/Searches led to an arrest, whereas in 2014/15 that figure has risen to 14%

Aren’t we good?  We’ve cut back on Stops and Searches and increased our Strike Rate by 2%.  That’s what Mrs May would have you believe.  The reality is that we have decreased our use of Stop and Search and as a result of that there are 33,481 fewer prisoners sitting in Custody.

Little wonder then that knife crime, and others, are on the rise.  Much less risk of being caught carrying a weapon, drugs or stolen property now, and we can thank Cruella and her Stop Search Crusade for that.

I thank you.

Freedom of Information – I Have Met My Match

I recently contacted Northamptonshire Police with a Freedom of Information Request, asking how many Police Stations had closed in the last 5 years, and how many were envisaged to close in the coming 5 years.

They answered the 1st bit perfectly and for that I thank them.

When it came to the second bit, they were a bit more cagey.

They issued me with a Refusal Notice on the following grounds;

Disclosure of information, which would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice.

Section 43 – Commercial Interests. Disclosure of this information would breach the commercial interests of the company if its disclosure under this act would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests of any person.

Law enforcement tactics would be compromised which would hinder the prevention or detection of crime and impact on police resources and may increase the commission of crime. Disclosure would enable the geographic mapping of our resources throughout the county.

Interests of third parties – Third party interests might be jeopardised by release of information relating to sensitive commercial information held about business, financial, contractual or operational issues.

Thus, although this information may be interesting to the public I do not see how its release can benefit the community at large. Having weighed up the argument, I feel the balance lies in withholding this information in order to protect those working on the strategy and staff affected by its outcome.

Well it takes more than that to put me off, so I set about finding the information elsewhere’

A quick search on my old friend Google very quickly came up with (amongst others)

Furious reaction from MP as police station closure proposals are revealed

Northamptonshire Police to close stations’ public enquiries desks

Labour warns against closure of police stations in Northamptonshire

Corby police station closure plan causes concern

It seems it’s OK for the PCC and the Chief Constable to discuss planned Police Station closures with the Press but plebs such as myself must be kept in the dark and fed bullshit, the old Mushroom Syndrome.

Needless to say, when their staff get back to work on Monday they will find my Appeal against their Refusal waiting.