Police Numbers

Since 2010 frontline police officers figures are 14% lower than 2010 when there were 143,734 police officers, representing a decrease of 20,564. Figure 1 shows the decrease in frontline officers year by year since 2010[1][2].

The number of police officers in England and Wales is the lowest recorded level since 1983. As the population was 10 million smaller then, in those bad old days of the early eighties, there was 1 police office per 469 people, while now there it is a 1 to 563 ratio[3].

Between March 2010 and March 2017 police support staff fell by 84,000 to 67,000 a drop in staff of 17,000. There has been some recovery in support staff with the difference between 2010 and March 2019 standing at 14,000. This would mean that frontline police officers would have to cover some backroom activities, further exacerbating the police shortages[4].

If all the areas of Police work are taken into consideration, including special constables and Police Community Support Officers then the overall loss in the force is 45,000 from 244,497 in 2010 to 199,752 [5][6].


The Police Force has seen a 19% cut in funding since 2010. In reality the central government cuts were 30%, but council tax has risen and local authorities have taken up more of the funding share[1].

The lack of funding for forces is a vicious circle as they are less able to deal with crime, meaning repeat crimes and less police officers to deal with growing crime [2].

Also as funding has been reduced in other areas, such as youth clubs, probation services and with the growth of serious poverty, crime has risen at a time when the police force has shrunk due to its funding also being reduced [3].

More Officers 2020-2022?

PAGE 17 - Police Workforce, England and Wales[1]

In August 2019 Boris Johnson pledged to increase Police numbers by 20,000 in 3 years. This target only applies to frontline officers and does not deal with the 14,000 support staff that have been lost since 2010. As can be seen in Figure 2 the yearly attrition rate for frontline officers stands at more than 7000 officers, which would indicate that adding a further 20,000 officers will mean that Police force numbers will stand still and remain at over 20,000 below their 2010 numbers. To expand the number of police officers back to the 2010 numbers the police force will need to recruit a further 40,000+ officers over the next 3 years. They will also need to recruit support staff to match the increase in officers[2].

The Home Office has admitted it does not know how much the scheme will cost or where the money will come from. Details “still being worked out” include how the new recruits will be spread across different ranks, and shared between the 43 regional forces in England and Wales, a spokesman said. It is also unclear how 20,000 more officers will be accommodated following the closure of 600 stations since 2010[3].