I was chatting to my old mate Dick over at Force HQ the other day (no, I’m not going to tell you which Force) and I got the distinct impression that, despite promises to the contrary, the Front Line was getting a wee bit stretched.
We’ve all heard the stats showing the pitiful number of Police Officers left in the Police Service after nearly 4 years of austerity, and we’ve heard the promises of Cruella and our masters of varying titles that the Front Line would be protected. Well I thought I’d take a look from a slightly different angle.
In September 2013 Dick’s Force consisted of 2,750 Police Officers and in March 2013 (the last time the Home Office made this figure available) 2,185 of them were Constables.
BUT, what sort of service can these fine men and women provide in times of Austerity?
So, I asked the question – for 2010-2013 how many Advanced Drivers were available on District?
How many Fast Cars were available on District for those Advanced Drivers to drive?
The first question fell at the first hurdle. They don’t hold historical data, they can only tell me how many Advanced Drivers they have TODAY at District level, and the answer is 238.
So how many cars have these Advanced Drivers had access to over the last for years?
2010 – 213
2011 – 219
2012 – Data Not Held
2013 – 142.
So between 2011 and 2013 we have seen a 35% reduction in fast cars on the Front Line.
I had a quick word with Dick, and he doesn’t believe it, he thinks the reduction is possibly closer to 70%
Whichever way you look at it you have 238 drivers to drive 142 cars. That doesn’t seem enough does it? Surely half this meagre total of cars is lying idle due to lack of available drivers due to the Shift System, sickness, leave etc, and that’s assuming that all of the cars are fit, healthy and roadworthy.
Or just maybe not all of these 142 cars are in routine use.
I don’t have a clue what the formula is or what it should be but slightly less than 10% of their total Constables are Advanced Car Drivers. After you’ve taken out the specialist postings etc that figure looks a little better. All I know is in the days when we had P6 Rover 3500s each shift had about 3-4 PCs authorised to drive them, fighting over the keys almost, never a shortage.
So, don’t worry, the Front Line IS being protected and the service we can provide the public is 1st Class and not hampered in the slightest by shortage of vehicles or kit. Or maybe I’m being sarcastic.