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Press Release

Press Releases

Taxpayers' Alliance: Each 'bobby on the beat' costs nearly £800,000 a year

Taxpayers' Alliance press release

The Taxpayers’ Alliance can reveal today that 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'. While necessary spending cuts have to be made, this report reveals some forces are far better than others at ensuring officers are spending their time on the front line. A key priority for Police Chiefs and newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners must be to focus resources on frontline policing.

Click here to read the full report (with FULL REGIONAL BREAKDOWN)

The key findings of this research are:

The total police budget for England and Wales is £13.2 billion, supporting the work of 149,000 police officers and Police and Community Support Officers. This works out as nearly £90,000 for each police officer and PCSO.

On average, fewer than 12 per cent of officers and PCSOs are “visible and available” to the public at any one time. That means each constant visible and available police officer and PCSO effectively costs £792,851 a year. £10 million a year buys an average of less than 14 visible and available police officers and PCSOs at any one time.

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.

Click here to read the full report (with FULL REGIONAL BREAKDOWN)

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)

Click here to read the full report (with FULL REGIONAL BREAKDOWN)

Commenting on the research Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"Many police forces can do more to use their resources efficiently and get more of their officers out on the front line fighting crime. Of course the police have some important work to do that will sometimes legitimately stop them being available for visible policing, but the large differences between forces suggests some are giving taxpayers much better value for money. At a time of necessary restraint in public spending, Police Chiefs must ensure their budgets are spent effectively and minimise any unnecessary red tape that gets in the way of frontline policing.”

Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and Research Fellow at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"Getting police back on the streets works at preventing and responding quickly to crime. The new Police Commissioners should devote more of their hefty budgets to front line policing and less to back office spending."



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