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Q&A about National Police Demand Report "Estimating Demand on the Police Service"

The following Q&As have been provided by the College of Policing to further inform issues raised in the national thematic investigative report ""Estimating Demand on the Police Service".

This was the first national picture of the breadth and complexity of the work undertaken by the police and suggests an increasing amount of police time is directed towards public protection work such as managing high-risk offenders and protecting victims who are at risk and often vulnerable.

Click here to view the press release associated with the release of the College of Policing report

Click here to download a copy of the 16 page College of Rolicing report: "Estimating Demand on the Police Service"



Why has it taken until now for the police to understand demand in this way?

Police forces have always collected data on force-wide demand to make decisions on resourcing and response to local issues. Nationally, we’ve tended to rely on what police recorded crime is telling us, but it can only represent part of the police workload. The College of Policing was eager to try and understand the range of demands on the police service and to try to fill the gaps using all the data and information available to us.


Does this actually map all of the demand?

The analysis published today is the first step towards providing a clearer national picture of the ongoing and incoming demand on the service. It allows us to more clearly articulate how the police spend their time and the range of demands put on them. There are clearly gaps in the analysis. To ensure that the changing demand can be captured in the future the College of Policing research team will create a common approach and templates that can be used by forces to ensure consistent and comparable force data can be gathered on demand. 


How have things changed in what the police are really doing? And why?

The evidence suggests that an increasing proportion of police time is directed towards public protection work: managing high-risk offenders and victims who are at risk and often vulnerable. Such cases are often extremely challenging and require considerable amounts of police resource. This is set against a background of the investigation of crime being rendered more complex and costly, not least because of the need to include digital devices within the scope of many investigations.


Is this police getting involved in areas they shouldn't ie 'social engineering' or unproductive partnerships?

The police service has always worked in partnership with health, social services and others in the criminal justice system to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the public from harm. The intention of publishing the analysis was to provide a clearer picture of new and typical demands on policing to inform policy decisions.


What is this piece of work for? What happens now?

The work is for the benefit of everyone with an interest in policing. Not only does it provide us with the first national evidence base of the picture of demand but it also highlights areas where there are gaps in what we know. To ensure that the changing demand can be captured in the future the College of Policing research team will create a common approach and templates that can be used by forces to ensure consistent and comparable force data can be gathered on demand.


Is this a bid for more money?

Not at all. The College of Policing, as the professional body for the police service, is looking at building the evidence-base in policing. The work was undertaken to build a better understanding of the full range of demands on the police. The outcomes will no doubt be of interest to those working in policing, Chief Constables, Police and Crime Commissioners and those working and with an interest in the criminal justice sector.


Are some forces on the verge of collapse? Some chief constables and PCCs have expressed concern about the future of their forces. Do they have the evidence now to be concerned?

The demand analysis shows that while the number of crimes may have fallen, the level of demand on police resources has not reduced in the same way. There are clearly challenges around cost of policing, particularly as crimes become more complex. The data indicates there are emerging pressures on police resilience – namely decreased levels of police visibility and increasing requests for mutual aid.


What does it mean for the future model of policing, in structures of forces?

The analysis shows that as police officer and staff numbers decline there is a concern about whether forces can maintain levels of service delivery. This is coupled with increasing requests for mutual aid.

As crimes evolve and become more complex police forces clearly need to look at how they deliver in this changing environment. Look at cyber-related crime for example. These are crimes that don’t recognise force boundaries, they can easily move from being regional to national and international in scale. The question is, will ad-hoc mergers and collaboration between local forces meet the future demand on policing.


Does this picture of demand spell the end of community / neighbourhood policing as we know it?

There is evidence of decreasing visibility of police officers on foot patrol and concern that as resource levels falls, the remaining resource time is taken up dealing with reactive demand – leaving less resource for preventative work and discretionary activity.

There has been some chief constables who have already indicated that the model of neighbourhood policing is proving challenging to deliver in austerity.


Is it helpful to model an average force when the size and shape of forces is so varied?

There has been an absence of reliable information about new and emerging crime types along with inconsistencies in data gathering and recording. This analysis seeks to estimate via a "typical" force the first national snapshot of incoming and ongoing demand on policing.



Posted on Thursday 22nd January 2015
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