Police: Bureaucracy

Home Department written question – answered on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of police officer time was spent on front-line policing in each year since 1997.

Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson The Secretary of State for the Home Department

For the period 2003-04 to 2007-08, the front-line policing measure assesses time spent by police officers on core policing duties such as patrol and responding to 999 calls. They also include activities of CID and specialist officers, who, while not always visible to the public, are none the less carrying out core policing duties.

The estimates by year are as follows: 2003-04, 63.6 per cent.; 2004-05, 62.3 per cent.; 2005-06, 63.6 per cent.; 2006-07, 64.2 per cent.; 2007-08, 64.9 per cent. Data for Staffordshire are not available for 2007-08 and these figures therefore exclude Staffordshire.

The Policing Green Paper published in July 2008 introduced a robust programme to reduce bureaucracy and free-up officer time. This is enabling frontline staff to focus on dealing with the public's priorities, as measured against the confidence target-now the only top-down target on forces. As recommended by Sir David Normington in his review of data burdens placed by the Government on the police service, the collection of data about time spent by officers on police activities ceased after 2007-08.

On 18 March 2010 HM Inspectorate of Constabulary published Value for Money Profiles for the 43 forces in England and Wales. Explanatory material accompanying the profiles contains an overall analysis of the police workforce as at 31 March 2009 which shows the proportion by function as:

Aiding the public 47 per cent.

Working in the community 36 per cent.

Policing roads 4 per cent.

Taking 999 calls and tasking (control room) 7 per cent.

Dealing with criminals 31 per cent.

Investigating crime (for example CID) 13 per cent.

Specialist functions (such as air support, firearms, dogs) 4 per cent.

Gathering intelligence 4 per cent.

Processing forensic evidence 2 per cent.

Preparing cases for court (criminal justice) 5 per cent.

Holding people in custody 3 per cent.

Helping to support 22 per cent.

Operational Support (including planning, estates, vehicles) 8 per cent.

Business Support (including HR, finance, IT) 11 per cent.

Training 2 per cent.

Other (such as catering and stores/supplies) 1 per cent.


These figures relate to the breakdown of all police personnel by function. They therefore include police staff as well as officers.

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