LETTER: Police officer numbers same as 1990s
For some time we have been told by senior officers, Police Federation and the media about the reduction in police numbers and on the verge of not being able to cope.
But when you look at the Home Office audited accounts you see a totally different picture.
Back in the 1960s, for England and Wales, there was one police officer for 800 members of the British population.
Currently, there is approximately one officer for 480.
Granted, it varies between urban and country areas.
There was an Edmund Davies report on police pay and conditions back in the late 1970s, which saw a large increase in police pay but not immediately, in police numbers.
Over the years there was a steady increase then around 2002 for a few short years there was a massive increase in their numbers (around 40,000), which tailed off when the current government started to reduce their numbers.
I think we are all aware of the media coverage on that matter.
The strength of our police forces is currently around the same as it was in the late 90s.
Some members of the press have pointed this out in the past but it is not a headline grabber!
During the last few years police forces have stopped visiting what they call low class crimes, which includes stolen motor vehicles.
Point of contact these days is either the telephone or the internet and they will just give you a crime number.
Large numbers of police stations have closed, likewise they no longer have specialist police traffic departments, this role now being farmed out to the Highways Agency.
And, of course, there is the use of speed and number plate recognition cameras, CCTV, and other forms of technology that are now available to police forces which should have seen a vast increase in detection rates.
At the very least we should see more officers on the beat but in lots of areas all we see are operation support officers, who do a good job in carrying the flag.
We are told more officers are required to counter the terrorism threat.
But I seem to remember back in the 1970s the IRA were extremely active on the mainland particularly in the West Midlands with a local force that was vastly under strength who got on with the job without moaning.
They complain about the reduction of funding but surely a good part of this would be down to reduced police numbers and responsibilities that have been passed on to other agencies.
I may be the devil’s advocate in writing this letter and no doubt if published will create some furious letters in response.
Barry J Rudge