It doesn't matter who wins the election later this year because police numbers will be cut to save money on the budget. Does it make a jot of difference to me on response team? - the answer is not really because the past 15 years or so has already seen a decrease in response team numbers, despite a huge increase in paperwork.
I work an area consisting of 3 Divisions that in years gone by were separate entities each having their own relief patrol shift, comms room, custody suite and support teams (CID - Crime Squad - Collator - Admin units) and SMT. In 2010 we work as one and the Admin support team's and comms have been mainly centralised in a far off place.
The minimum strength on a Night Duty is 24 and we rarely have more than that but very often less. Early shift is 22 but the demand is not usually as intense. I know that some readers will salivate at having those numbers but if I tell you we have nearly 30 cell spaces and that's sometimes not sufficient it will indicate how busy it gets. You can do the Math. Three double crewed cars and a double crewed van on each Division is about as good as it gets. We definitely have less officers to respond to calls from the public than 13 years ago so the increase in police/pcso numbers hasn't trickled down to where it is needed. The centre keep boasting about how many more calls are being taken in the call centres but don't mention the poor sods who are trying to deal with them and still having to meet target times.
A relief would have had about 20 PC'S on it so in the past we would have started with 60. My team is now made up of about 40 constables but from that we lose 4 to a custody management team and 1 for a beat crimes team. We also provide 1 for a wanted squad to hunt down those who have been bailed and are still to be brought to justice. We also have to give to an Ops room to back fill the police staff who have been moved on to save money, so at times 2 people, and not forgetting a gaoler for custody and station office cover if the civvie is off. As we are nearing 50% probationers on team they also have to complete training modules which means we lose them for a week now and again.
I often look at how many people are booked on duty and if the community teams are included there are often 30 extra available mainly PCSO's but these are not deployable unless the call is in line with their local priorities. They are the visible presence and work on the reassurance side, but can be drafted in for any critical incidents before 10 pm.
I finally got back from a job last week that needed 8 constables and me to deal with, to see the screen still displaying several calls we hadn't got to. The box was well are truly empty, prisoners still being arrested at 6am. This government has spent millions extra on policing and maybe if they hadn't wanted to set targets and measure things so much, some of it might have found its way to where the public want it. Lets face it if you call us and we don't turn up - you're not going to be impressed are you? and that's the only indicator now isn't it?