#006/2010 – Where are the police?

The public pay £13.5billion every year for their police – with 80% of their money spent on staff, figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary reveal.

HMIC is releasing the data as part of the ‘value for money’ profiles for each of the 43 police forces, after the public asked where their police are and what they do.

The inspectorate’s research shows that of the total staffing budget, half is spent on aiding the public, a third on dealing with criminals and a fifth goes on supporting police work.

The profiles are part of the larger ‘police report cards’, which allow the public to see how well their force is performing on crime and anti-social behaviour, and compare them with similar forces.

By visiting My Police on hmic.gov.uk, people can view details of what police are spending their budgets on, staffing levels by grade and function, and policing results.

Nationally, the figures reveal that:

  • Staffing accounts for about 80% of all police spending
  • There are more than 243,000 staff across the 43 forces
  • About 143,800 full-time officers, 16,500 PCSOs and 82,190 civilian support staff are employed

Officers and staff spend their time:

  • Aiding the public, 47% comprising:


  • Working in the community – 36%
  • Policing roads – 4%
  • Taking 999 calls and tasking – 7%
  • Dealing with criminals, 31% comprising:
    • Investigating crime – 13%
    • Specialist functions (air support, firearms, dogs) – 4%
    • Gathering intelligence – 4%
    • Processing forensic evidence – 2%
    • Preparing cases for court – 5%
    • Holding people in custody – 3%
  • Supporting functions, 22% comprising:
    • Operational support (planning, estates, vehicles) – 8%
    • Business support (including HR, finance, IT) – 11%
    • Training – 2%
    • Other (such as catering and stores / supplies) – 1%

There is no spending model to fit all forces. If one force is outside the average – this may be due to a low number of officers, or because costs in some areas are particularly high – HMIC believes the public is entitled to ask, and to find out, where their taxes are spent.

The police service must explain variations in costs and the use of staff. The profiles show there are forces that have:

  • More than three times as many HR staff as others per 100 total staff
  • More than twice as many control room staff as others per 1,000 residents
  • More than three times as many PCSOs as others per 1,000 residents
  • More than twice as many community police officers per 1,000 residents

H.M. Chief Inspector of Constabulary Denis O’Connor said: “The public want to know where all the police are. Today we have gone some way to answering this with our Value for Money profiles. They show what the police are working on nationally and locally.

“But better information alone does not tell the public the whole story. The police need to be asked why their costs vary from force to force. Police authorities need to be using comparative information to challenge constructively.”

Mr O’Connor added: “The profiles have been published today on our website as part of ‘My Police’, launched last week, which sets out for the public the risks where they live, how well the police perform in tackling these risks and how much they cost.”

HMIC now propose to inspect and report on:

  1. The areas of greatest spending, to encourage innovative approaches to saving money so that they may be able to deliver more for less;
  2. How the workforce is organised, to identify improvements in productivity; and
  3. The potential to reduce the cost of criminal justice processes.


Notes to editors

  1. The Value for Money Profiles can be found at http://www.hmic.gov.uk
  2. HMIC consider value for money to comprise effectiveness (doing the right thing), efficiency (low unit costs) and economy (affordable cost).
  3. The data is supplied by police forces themselves. The data has been checked but as this is the first time these profiles have been published there may still be errors which will be corrected over time.
  4. HMIC, with the Audit Commission, are currently inspecting police authorities. Inspections for some forces are complete and the relevant reports are available on the Audit Commission website. HMIC published on 15 March a thematic review which included an assessment of police authorities’ role in ensuring the police deliver value for money.
  5. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest and rigorously examining the effectiveness of police forces and authorities to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence.
  6. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police and HMRC.
  7. The HMIC press office can be contacted on 0207 035 2712/ 2027.