Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Visible and available policing: the most and least efficient forces


Peter Cuthbertson of the Centre for Crime Prevention reviews in a report for the TaxPayers Alliance how effectively the 43 police forces are at get out police in front line roles. While some back office police work is important, the number of officers who are "visible and available" at any one time is key to cutting crime.

Nonetheless, less than 12 per cent of police officers and Police Community Support Officers’ (PCSO) time is “visible and available” to the public. Because of this it effectively costs taxpayers nearly £800,000 for every constant ‘bobby on the beat’. A key priority for Police Chiefs and newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners must be to focus resources on frontline policing. The report has a full breakdown of availability and expenditure by police force.

Read the full report at the TaxPayers' Alliance web site.

Key findings:
  • The forces with the highest share of police visible and available are West Yorkshire Police (16.3 per cent), Cleveland Police (15.8 per cent), Norfolk Constabulary (15 per cent) and Nottinghamshire Police (15 per cent).
  • The forces with the lowest share of police visible and available are City of London (7.2 per cent), Warwickshire Police Force (8.7 per cent), West Midlands (10.0 per cent), Derbyshire Constabulary (10.2 per cent) and the Metropolitan Police (10.2 per cent).
  • The City of London Police and Metropolitan Police have among the highest average costs per officer. For every £10 million spent, the City provides 86 officers and PCSOs (5.5 “visible and available” on average) and the Met provides 98 (8.9 “visible and available”). The City of London Police spends £1,813,871 for every officer or PCSO visible and available while the Met spends £1,120,342. It is worth noting that the City of London police and the Met have specific responsibilities for financial crime and anti-terrorism respectively. This probably reduces the amount of time that officers are able to be visible and available.
Outside London, the police forces with the highest cost per visible and available officer/PCSO are:
  • Warwickshire: £1,224,102 (8.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Northamptonshire: £955,968 (10.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Wiltshire: £931,846 (10.7 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Derbyshire: £931,826 (10.7 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Surrey: £842,711 (11.9 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
The police forces with the lowest cost per visible and available officer/PCSO are:
  • Northumbria: £475,459 (21 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • West Yorkshire: £521,971 (19.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Cleveland: £539,186 (18.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Nottinghamshire: £607,041 (16.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Norfolk: £616,242 (16.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
Peter wrote about the report for ConservativeHome and The Commentator.

The report was covered in The Sun on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and 13 local and online publications.