Last updated on October 14th, 2023 at 12:15 pmReading Time: 4 minutes
I have decided to ignore the release of the latest ‘official’ Crime Stats for England and Wales. The BBC have already done a wonderful job of skewing the picture and somehow implying that they’re the Police’s fault. I can’t be doing with that, people will make their own decisions regardless of how the BBC (other news sources are also availabale) spin it. You can call me Nostradamus, or not.
However, the latest set of data for one of my favourite vanity projects, the Police Uplift Programme, was published yesterday, and I thought I would prefer to take a look at that. Less than 6 months to go till the end of the Programme, and the government will have recruited 20,000 extra or ‘new’ officers.
Or will they have done?
The first boring fact to point out is that the Police Uplift Programme loves to ‘Headcount’ for their Policing numbers, whereas other ‘official’ stats from the Home Office come on Full Time Equivalent numbers.
While this release provides a provisional quarterly update on the number of police officers (headcount) in England and Wales, it is not intended to replace the long running statistical series ‘Police workforce, England and Wales’, which also contains information on other police workers. The data released in the biannual ‘Police workforce, England and Wales’ have been designated as National Statistics, and users are therefore encouraged to use those data to analyse long-term trends in police numbers. The biannual release provides a snapshot of officer numbers on both a full-time equivalent (FTE) and headcount basis as at 31 March and 30 September each year, as well as more detailed breakdowns on joiners and leavers.Police Uplift Programme Update 26 October 2022
Don’t ask me, I don’t know why they would do that, I’m easily confused
The first important fact to note is that as of 30th September 2022 the total establishment of the Police Service of England and Wales had genuinely risen to 142,759. Since the inception of the Police Uplift Programme that represents an uplift of 15,343 extra officers under the Police Uplift Programme.
Additional Officers were also recruited and financed under the Policing Precept from the Council Tax. More on that later.
Looking at the chart above it would appear that the Police Uplift Programme has been a success, but, as you would expect, I would challenge that assumption in some respects, and try to add some context.
It goes without saying that PUP has added >15,000 officers to the total establishment of England and Wales. However, the task was to recruit 20,000 in 3 years. After 2 and a half years they’ve only achieved three quarters of their target, just under 4,000 to go before the end of March next year. Can they do that? In theory yes, but current performance would suggest not.
A hidden factor of PUP is that it has distorted the numbers picture. If we forget the actual numbers for a moment, the curve is climbing quite healthily, if a tad below target, but what it has done is to flood the Police Service with raw, inexperienced recruits. No disrespect to them but in their first few years they are little more than scapegoats and cannon fodder. Yes, the numbers are rising but the depth of experience is not. If you don’t value experience however, it’s the ideal scenario.
I haven’t had time to update it yet, but the chart above shows just how the 0-5 years service numbers are increasing year on year at the expense of experience.
To get back to the Policing Precept. Some, but by no means all, Constabularies have recruited additional officers under the Policing Precept element of our Council Taxes. So, if your Policing Precept has been increased by your local Council, you might like to know what that increase has financed.
The chart above represents the total number of additional officers (516) recruited, to date, during the life of PUP. If your Force isn’t specifically shown above then it means that the answer is NIL, and if, like most, your Policing Precept has increased over the past few years, you might want to ask your PCC or Chief Constable (politely) what that increase has been spent on, as it certainly wasn’t extra recruitment.
Finally, to put my Nostradamus hat on. With all the shenanigans that have been going on at Westminster over the past few weeks, and Jeremy Hunt’s rapid rewriting of the Autumn Statement, now would be a good time for the Home Office to ditch the Police Uplift Programme entirely. It looks as though it is destined to fail, and government can put the blame on Austerity 2, more cuts, and maybe go so far as to say that it was misguided and not properly thought through in the first place. It depends on how much they want to embarrass Boris, yet the current administration can save both face and money.
We shall see.