There is one good thing about having policed the same area over the past umpteen years. I am in a unique position to compare things now to what went before. I do recall one Superintendo stating that response team would have a strength of 21 and if it fell below that, he would post people from non-operational posts to maintain that level. I think at the time there was a concerted attempt to raise the status of uniformed reliefs. It never happened and that same team now has a strength of 14.
That's not to say there are less boots on the street, with the community teams and dedicated squads we do in fact have an abundance of resources. Unfortunately they all work towards their individual remits. The reported levels of volume crime have decreased considerably even when you take into account some minimal fiddling. I know this because I was in the morning hot seat nearly 10 years ago having to read out the overnight figures. I can put this down in part to the pro-active activities of the Burglary squad, Drugs squad, Robbery squad and Motor Vehicle squad.
These are not made up wholly of CID officers but have to take constables from the response teams. Due to the type of work they undertake the most productive officers will be spirited away from uniformed response. After some short term pain they will be replaced, but most likely by a non skilled probationer or I think I must call them student officer's. Some of the teams where I work have over 60% of probationers (less than 2 years service) making up the core strength. When I was in my probation over 20 years ago I was the only newbie on my relief for a 2 year period and that's a lot of tea making I can tell you.
I'm continually having to give up people when a new temporary squad is formed to meet some centrally imposed target. We have newer squads other than those mentioned, which I won't name so not to identify my area. It's always with no notice that I have to provide another constable and it will invariably leave us struggling to cope with calls. I feel like the coach of a football academy being stripped of my best players having invested time in bringing them up to a high standard.
It's the way it is and you can't really stand in the way of a constable seeking better working conditions on a squad, with the added benefit of overtime thrown in too. If I was them I would be sorely tempted too and being totally honest the results speak for themselves. Response team is harder work than it's ever been and I must say I'm very proud of what these youngsters produce and their commitment. All I ask for now that those volume figures have gone down is for some of the constables back.