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I Thought I’d Finished

Last updated on October 14th, 2023 at 08:43 pm

Reading Time: 5 minutes


I thought I’d finished writing about the personpower (OK manpower) levels and experience in Policing, but it seems not.  Over 2 years ago I wrote a piece about the Length of Service in the Police Service of England and Wales and how the profile had changed over the years.


I haven’t really got one, I just thought it sounded posher to have one, but while you’re here.  I’d like to apologise for the confusion around the original version of this post.  About 5 minutes after I published I identified a fundamental error that I needed to correct, and rewrite some of the post.


The shape of the profile didn’t really change very much between 2016 and 2018, the numbers came down across almost all all of the bands, but not so much the shape.

Experience EW 2 I thought I'd finished
Length of Service 2016-2018


In 2020 I looked at it again and again, and obviously, the numbers had changed, but so, in my assessment, had the shape, a potentially significant dip in the 5-10 years service band.

I thought I'd finished
Length of Service 2020

In 2020 the peak had shifted to the 15-20 year band, the 5-10 year band appears to have shrunk considerably.but in fact has remained reasonably constant, skewed by the fact that the 1-5 year band has increased markedly.

In view of that I had another cup of coffee and tried to imagine what the Police Service might look like in 2025.

Length of Service 2025 I thought I'd finished
Length of Service 2025???


The 31st March gave me the ideal opportunity to assess the Police Uplift Programme from a different angle.  Not only to the bi-annual workforce figures get released on that date, but it was also the final day of PUP.

I compared the data from 2016-18, 2020 and 2023 to see how the profile had changed, and by how much.  Because the Police Uplift Programme has boosted officer numbers for the past 3 years, I have converted the numbers to percentages of the relevant Service total, then see how it looks.


This is how the profile of the Police Service has changed over the past few years, both in numbers as percentages.

Length of service numbers I thought I'd finished
Length of service numbers
Length of service percentages I thought I'd finished
Length of service percentages

Finally, just for the sake of completeness and to round things off, the total establishment between 2016 and 2023, and the number of officers per 100,000 head of population.

I thought I'd finished
I thought I'd finished
Per 100k


  1.  Unsurprisingly there has been a large peak in the number of officers with between 1 and 5 years service.  Most commentators would probably agree that officers with that amount of service are hardly the most experienced and well-rounded, but they do have a place.
  2. There has been a corresponding dip of officers with 10-15 years service.  Those are the officers who, arguably, have a good mix of service, experience, knowledge and are still active enough to be very valuable to the Service.
  3. One fact that you won’t hear the Home Office trumpeting from the rooftops (and it IS a fact) is that at 31st March 2023 the Police Service had a grand total of 149,566 officers across all ranks.  Of that 149,566 officers, 53,774 have less than 5 years service.  In other words 36% of the Police Service of England and Wales (over a third)  have less than 5 years service.
  4. Another unpalatable fact is that this was totally avoidable and would have been even worse if Theresa May’s disastrous policies not been reversed by the Police Uplift Programme.  There may be Tory voters who read this who vigorously disagree with that statement, but I stand by it.
  5. The number of officers per 100,000 head of population has increased slightly, thanks to the Police Uplift Programme.  Without the PUP the number of Constables per 100,000 would be in the region of 167, which is on a par with pre PUP levels.

It distresses me to say it, but in my opinion, the profile of the service in 2023 already looks worse than I predicted for 2025. People will have their own opinions on 36% having less than 5 years service.  Personally I think it should maybe be somewhere between 20 and 25%, no more.  Unless, of course, you don’t value experience.

I’m guessing that the Home Office don’t, it’s all about numbers and £ to them.  Police Forces possibly a bit more as several have or had schemes for tempting their pensioners back into the fold.  A temptation I found quite easy to resist.

I didn’t think it was fair to include it in my main analysis of PUP, because the figures predate PUP, but we don’t come out of it looking very well when you compare our ratio of officers to 100k of the population, but remember our current number is 167 and the average (in 2016) was 357

Population 1I thought I'd finished
Population 1

A different version of the chart in Wiki puts England and Wales as 107th out of 146.

Another piece in Landgeist, shows E&W data for 2019 compared to other European countries.  Whichever version you look at, the UK is very lightly Policed.

Europe I thought I'd finished

Some may say TJF, and the vast majority of us knows where the blame lies.

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