When we published the figures showing how the number of police officers in Bromley had fallen over the previous year to 479.2 from 505.3 (see blog of May 25th), we were asked how many of those were fulfilling back office functions. .
I put the question to the new(ish) Borough Commander, Steph Roberts, who has given me this reply:
The term ‘back office functions’ is a very vague and emotive term, especially when levied at officers who play a critical role in policing and investigations. Whilst visibility is an important element of policing it cannot, by itself, protect the public from all the threats they face. The variety of specialist officers required to deal with crimes ranging from child protection issues to murder and terrorism provides an insight into what else is needed.
For the purpose of this request I am therefore using the definition of the police front line as that defined by the HMIC last year – The police front line comprises those who are in everyday contact with the public and who directly intervene to keep people safe and enforce the law.
I currently have 17.35 police officers performing what are deemed ‘back office functions’, which equates to 3.62% of my police officer strength. A number of these are officers on restricted duties – sometimes medical assessments order restriction from fully operational duties, leading to officers fulfilling these non-operational roles in support of front-line officers. However those officers not on medical restrictions are deployed to the front line when operationally required.
We also asked the Commander about rumours that locals police bases might be closing. She told us:
With regard to the Safer Neighbourhood bases, the estate is the property of the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime and in times of austerity the MPS has to review its capital expenditure and the efficient use of the estate. It is possible that there may therefore a change to where Safer Neighbourhoods Teams are located in the future, but these are operational decisions that will be made by the Commissioner in consultation with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and partners will be fully briefed when those final decisions have been made.
I think this means we are likely to see quite significant changes to local policing once the Olympics are out of the way. We will update you as soon as there are any firm proposals.