12.6% visible policing stat leads to call for more beat bobbies

By Ian Dipple Thursday 03 January 2013 Updated: 04/01 16:17

CALLS have been made for police bosses to put more bobbies on the beat after research revealed officers from West Mercia are spending just over a tenth of their time on the streets.

According to the statistics, West Mercia Police had just 12.6 per cent of its officers and PCSOs 'visible and available' to the public at any one time.

That equates to 14 available for every £10million spent by the force - an average cost of £722,589.

The figures were released by the TaxPayers' Alliance, using data from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers Alliance, called on police chiefs to ensure they were cutting unnecessary red tape getting in the way of frontline policing.

"Many police forces can do more to use their resources efficiently and get more of their officers out on the front line fighting crime.

"Of course the police have some important work to do that will sometimes legitimately stop them being available for visible policing, but the large differences between forces suggests some are giving taxpayers much better value for money."

A West Mercia Police spokeswoman said officers were deployed based on need and the nature of their work, which meant not all officers would be visible to the public while on duty and many did not carry out traditional 'bobbies on the beat' roles, such as CID officers working on a murder investigation in an incident room.

"We recognise there is a popular view police visibility lowers crime levels, however day-to-day experience shows that crime falls for a wide variety of reasons and officer visibility is just one of the tactics available to help drive crime down."

The force also pointed out crime had fallen - in North Worcestershire, it was down 19 per cent in the current financial year with 2,798 fewer offences.

West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore said: "As it is not entirely clear how these figures were calculated I would not want to comment on them specifically at this stage.

"However, I would reassure residents of West Mercia that ensuring the force has as visible a policing presence as possible across the three counties is something I see as a priority."

He reiterated what the force spokesperson said regarding officers being deployed according to need, also using the example of CID officers working on a murder investigation.

"Ensuring the balance is right to provide the people of West Mercia with the service they deserve is definitely something Chief Constable David Shaw and I will continue to monitor as we move forward," he added.

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