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Is it police numbers or a nice environment that keeps the peace, or is it just a crazy mix?

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posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 05:00 PM
I live on the South West coast of England under the jurisdiction of the Devon & Cornwall Police Constabulary, which recently had further cuts to their budget cutting officer numbers to the 3000 mark.

For perspective purposes, this is the number of people/public they have to cover:

Devon & Cornwall Police covers the largest geographical police area in England,
The area's population is around 1.5 million, rising to eight million with the influx of visitors in the summer months.

So this had me thinking about how many cops we actually have on duty at any given time and according to it now stands at:
3,083 Warrant carrying police officers
584 Warrant carrying unpaid uniformed volunteer 'special police' officers
365 Police Community Support Officers - these are not issued with batons, spray, or tazers, and can only use reasonable force to hold a suspected criminal for 30 minutes until a warrant carrying police officer arrives.

So, in total figures for my local police force, there are 4032 people who can legally detain a suspected criminal, for up to 30 minutes at least, in the biggest police area in England, and a population which fluctuates between 1.5 million in Winter, to 8 million during Summer.
Now, let's assume that these officers all work a 12 hour shift and have 1 day off each week - I know this is a ridiculous extreme, but it shows that the reality is less officers actually available at any time than the number I reach - so that means 576 are having a day off, and 1728 are on duty covering one of the two 12 hour shifts.

This 1728 people who can detain suspected criminals for at least 30 minutes, on duty at any given time, are therefore responsible for 1.5 million people in Winter, and 8 million in Summer.
That is 868 people per available officer in Winter, and 4629 people per officer in Summer.

I then wondered about stats showing police per population by country, and was disappointed to find the standard universal benchmark appears to relate to police personnel per 100,000, finding that the UK came at 262 per 100,000 of population, I decided to compare it with the figures of actual detaining officers available on the streets in my area using the published officer numbers and my imaginary 12 hour shift pattern:

In Winter, 115.2 officers available per 100,000 population
In Summer, 21.6 officers available per 100,000 population.

That is a much more realistic figure of the potential number of officers, and if you bring a 3 shift system in, with sickness and holidays then the figure is much lower in reality.

I was surprised after doing the maths for my area that we have such a low crime situation, even when living in the 'roughest' areas of our major population centers (Plymouth/Devonport, Torbay, Exeter) we really don't have the burnt out cars on our housing estates, or the off-licence beer stores with a hatch where you have to put the cash in before getting the product, as I've experienced in other parts of the UK.

Here's the most recent chart I could find from December 2013 ( and my police area is the yellow bar.

I'm quite happy with that, but with the obviously tiny levels of available officers in the Summer, I do wonder why we have such an low average level of crime over the year. We're actually just as skint as the rest of the UK, and in some areas we are at the levels of inner cities, so is it just because the environment is nice that it's safer here? It certainly isn't because of oppressive police control as some might claim, the numbers of cops couldn't stop a riot without help from the rest of the UK for sure...I've even helped the odd cop out here over the years because he was losing, yet doing the right thing to help us, the public.

Are our cops in Devon & Cornwall more chilled because they are are outnumbered in a big way? Or are they just as chilled as everyone else living in a chilled out part of the UK? In my anecdotal experience they generally use friendly interaction as a first tool, with the baton only being drawn if you are an aggressive prick. They turn a sensible policing eye to certain things that harm no-one else or cause public order issues, and they have taken most of my friends son's ,and my own son, home (after catching them red handed for something) without wanting to pursue even a formally recorded caution, solely to protect their future job prospects.

I read so much about horrible police on ATS that I thought I'd share my own experiences, and then investigated stats on the few people in uniform who are available here at any given time to prevent crime.
Please share your own thoughts if you're interested, and especially regarding crime rate and police numbers.
Is it about enforcement, or environment, or both?

*Apologies in advance if I do not reply to any questions tonight, but it's proper late for my real-world head right now so I may go Zzz at any time...

...but thanks in advance for any interesting responses though

edit on 16-7-2014 by grainofsand because: Typo

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 05:43 PM
Police and Government are overrated in my opinion. If you look at the "Wild West" of the United States in the 19th century there were very few law enforcement officers and even less Government. Granted there were gangs and crime, but people in a community usually banded together to deal with these things. In fact, many of the 'lawmen' of the old west were hard to tell from the criminals.

I believe most people are good and want to help each other. All LEOs do is clean up the mess AFTER something has happened. They rarely save anyone or do anything of actual value.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 05:57 PM
Can't speak for the UK, but it's my experience that the less police the better the place. I thinks it speaks more to the kind of folks that choose to live their lives in places with zero police interference though. We pay two RCMP to sit on their asses in a cozy little barrack until they are called, and they aren't called much short of a dead body or something lol. Only violence you find here is the occasional fisticuffs, mostly by drunken boys trying to hard to prove they have hair on their nuts and and attract a female

Considering all the "poor" people from places like Haiti and Jamaica our town ships in to supplement the factories with extra cheap labour during the seasons, I was actually surprised there is not more crime when they are here. Might have to do with the fact they know they are the only ones without an arsenal here too, but also they want to be flown back in next season, so they are on their best behavior I am sure.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:00 PM
Cool weather (hot weather makes for hotheads), decent employment chances and lack of alcoholic outlets, or a social pressure that makes 'having a pint' an okay thing, drinking to stupidity or violence levels shunned, and a good educational system for everyone makes for a more civilized society. Also not packing people in like sardines.

Or you could take care of the problem like we do here in the U.S.; put 2 million people in jail, mostly for nonviolent low level drug arrests, legalize marijuana like in Colorado where the arrest rate has plummeted, partly because it's harder to find real criminals than it is your random weed grower and seller, partly because everyone is home enjoying the new law now, and meanwhile, send most of your otherwise unemployable barely educated youths overseas courtesy of that Big Terrorist Organization, the Pentagon, to get the violence out of their testerone-ized systems over there...

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:00 PM

originally posted by: Metallicus
...people in a community usually banded together...

...I believe most people are good and want to help each other....

Totally agree. It is certainly the case here in the 'wild' (rural/coast) South West of England compared to other parts of the UK I've lived in. Our mostly decent police are a welcome bonus as well though.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:08 PM
a reply to: signalfire
All legislation in the UK is out of control of police authorities, but individual cops can choose to ignore stuff if it is conducive to a happy society. I am glad the force I have to deal with is Devon and Cornwall. They mostly choose the community happiness call first.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:10 PM

originally posted by: TKDRL
Can't speak for the UK, but it's my experience that the less police the better the place. I thinks it speaks more to the kind of folks that choose to live their lives in places with zero police interference though.

I agree from my own experiences in the UK.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:13 PM
If you really want to know how effective your police are find the clearance rates for the various departments.

The average rate in the US is somewhere around 30%. That means for all the no-knock SWAT raids, high school drug stings, flashbanged babies, MRAPS, and elderly beatings some 70% of crimes go unsolved.

I tried looking it up for the UK briefly but apparently you guys have another term for it because I was getting something entirely different.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:42 PM
a reply to: thisguyrighthere
I'll have a look for UK crime detection stats tomorrow and get back here, but policing is much more than that, it's even maybe about being 'alpha gang' perhaps so everyone can be happy, and I'm happy with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary being the current alpha gang here in SW England.
Arrested or even assisting I've always found them a reasonble lot if you are not an aggressive prick, same story from most people I know who have experienced dealings with them. I'm certainly glad that the horror cop stories I read on ATS are totally removed from the way things appear to happen where I live.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:42 PM
When you look at the police to population rate of the US in falls in somewhere on the mid to lower range compared to other nations. For example a place like Russia has 1/3 the population of the US and more police not to mention interior troops. The US also lacks any national police force like the RCMP, The Carabinieri etc. For its size and population the US is under policed but, then US does not have much in the way of interanl problems that would require numbers like say Russia.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:55 PM
a reply to: grainofsand

I know at parties that are "out of control" with no police a few letter boxes get smashed , broken glass on road, and maybe a smashed car window before it fizzles out , but usually if police turn up it turns into a full blown riot.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 01:49 AM

originally posted by: ZeussusZ
a reply to: grainofsand

I know at parties that are "out of control" with no police a few letter boxes get smashed , broken glass on road, and maybe a smashed car window before it fizzles out , but usually if police turn up it turns into a full blown riot.

That's mild . A complete ****hole of place in the UK would have abandoned tenements with smashed up windows by gangs of youths, neighbors have been terrorized into leaving, large numbers of homes in terraced streets would have metal sheeting over the doors and windows, gardens would have years of trash piled up, garden walls would be keeling over, pathways would be overgrown with weeds. Then the high-rise council estates would have constant stabbings from gang wars. There would be grafitti everywhere from the steel shutters over shop-fronts to underpasses and anything metal. There would be muggings in the stairwells, underpasses and outside shops. All shops and offices would have CCTV systems everywhere, not that they solved anything. Office car parks have security gates that slide open under the control of a guard. Everyone would hurry home after 5pm and worry about being carjacked when going to the supermarket. Sometimes they would be unable to get into work because someone has stolen the gas out of their cars if not the cars themselves. City bus and train services are frequently cancelled at random due to lack of drivers.

You guys really have it lucky on the coast. The cleanup rates by the cops are the biggest factor.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 02:10 AM
I read once that there was a distinct correlation between extreme poverty in the same area or right next to an extremely wealthy area. There was less crime in impoverished areas that were surrounded by other impoverished areas. The crime rates increased when you have extreme poor living in the same area or in close proximity to an extremely wealthy area. Especially, when there is little to no middle class.

The larger the middle class in an area, the lower the crime rate even if you have some extreme poor and extreme wealthy.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 11:12 AM

originally posted by: thisguyrighthere
If you really want to know how effective your police are find the clearance rates for the various departments.

The average rate in the US is somewhere around 30%.

I found the UK government stats for 2010/11 covering detection rates by police force area, here is a link to the Excel file:

...and here is a link to the Home Office guide to understanding crime statistics:

The average for 'all' crimes detected and 'cleared up' by forces in England is a rather poor 27%, with my police area Devon & Cornwall running at 33%. The worst performing force at first glance is West Midlands at 20%, while the best in England is Northumbria at 41%.

It is an interesting read so far though, especially when considering the detection rates as broken down to offence classification. My force area has a pitifully low detection rate of 16% for burglary, but the West Midlands police catch only 8% of recorded burglars.
edit on 17-7-2014 by grainofsand because: Typo

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 11:44 AM
a reply to: calstorm
I've often had similar thoughts but more along the lines that in my area there are very blurred lines between rich and poor, with million pound houses in the same streets as £100 per week 1 bedroom rented flats.
My little converted former cattle-shed house is on the poor side of my street and is probably worth £80-90,000 right now, even with my decent sea view snatched between the million pound detached houses opposite me on the rich side.
And In the next street from me a 3 bedroom apartment just got sold for 1 million so I chuckle every time I walk the 50 metres down the hill to enjoy their lovely view for free.

We do have a few social housing estates (formally council owned) but they aren't at all like some of the estates I know back home in South Wales. People are just as skint here (benefits are national rates) but the dumped fridges and old beds just don't pile up like I see in inner cities.
I've often wondered if the mixture of rich and poor living close together is what helps towards less crime , or is it just the beautiful old stone built environment, sea views, beaches, old established trees, and happy tourists that helps to make us all a bit more chilled, plus having chilled out police which reduces the anger found in other concrete jungle estates?

I've said before that it can't be simply poverty that causes social problems when Devon & Cornwall is just as skint (if not more skint) as other parts of the UK especially when we have some of the lowest wages, mainly seasonal tourist work, and the highest water bills in the UK due to sewerage charges from the costs of maintaining Blue Flag clean beaches and sea water.
Personally whenever I've been out of work I've always thought it's much nicer to be skint here by the sea than some inland concrete estate, perhaps that's all it boils down to with perceptions of happiness and/or feelings of social exclusion...and crime?
edit on 17-7-2014 by grainofsand because: Typo

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 11:49 AM
a reply to: grainofsand

Awesome find.

I think it's interesting that police success rates (or lack of success) are so similar between the US and the UK.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 12:12 PM
a reply to: thisguyrighthere
I agree it is interesting.
Perhaps in similar 'Western' cultures such as ours then the police are using the same forensic/evidence gathering tools to investigate crime, and the criminals have the same means to evade them.
As you mention the US, I have to say from everything I've seen on ATS and other forums I have a background fear of ever visiting your country and dealing with your officials, border guards/TSA/cops etc. Every friend of mine who has been to the US have come back with stories ranging from just extreme unfriendliness to outright aggression threats and dominance. I am sad to say it has put me off from ever thinking about the US, and I felt less fear paying a gun-toting Cambodian border guard US$50 to enter his country illegally than I imagine I would entering the US legally.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 12:16 PM
a reply to: grainofsand

Your fear is not totally unfounded. The police state runs wild here.

And as we can see with both the UK and the US having roughly the same solving rates the overbearing tactics used by US police arent helping the police actually do their work.

The obvious question then is why the overbearing tactics? I think we all know the answer and it isnt good.

posted on Jul, 17 2014 @ 12:40 PM
a reply to: thisguyrighthere
Maybe that is why the police force in my area choose the 'everybody is friendly and should chill and be nice to each other' approach with us. My calculations in the OP show a mere 21 (and probably less) officers available per 100,000 people at any given time during the Summer tourist season. If it were ever to kick off big they would have no chance in the immediate moments so they know aggressive dominance isn't ever going to make their shift an easy one. It also scares tourists off and their money helps the local economy.

Do you think US police assume fear is the best way to control a populace?
I have wondered if our mostly friendly police in the SW of England would be as friendly if they all carried a gun. I like to imagine they would, but human nature and all that, I'm glad they mostly only have batons here, a couple of friends or good samaritans can prevent a cop killing me when that's all he's got...and all our cops know that, so we all keep it chilled whenever we can.
edit on 17-7-2014 by grainofsand because: To be more specific regarding cops with guns/just batons.

posted on Mar, 8 2015 @ 09:52 AM
Wow, the police numbers are dropping even lower this year:

...the total number of police officers in Devon and Cornwall would be likely to fall to about 2,900. ... Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are also likely to be reduced by half, from 360 to 180

So, new figures, 2900 warrant carrying employed constables, 584 volunteer (work for free) warrant carrying special constables, and 180 police community support officers who just wear high-viz jackets and have little more rights than the average citizen as mentioned in the OP.
3664 people in total who can 'walk the beat' in Devon & Cornwall at any given time.

Using the sums again as in the OP (although I failed to subtract the officers having a day off in the OP maths so my figures reflect that incorrectly) assume a 12 hour shift and a day off for each officer every week that's 1832 less the 261 off, making 1571 officers on duty in the largest police area of England covering 1.5 million people in the Winter, and 8 million in the Summer.

Winter = 1 cop per 954 citizens
Summer = 1 cop per 5092 citizens

I say again, it's no wonder our cops are a real friendly bunch generally, if it ever kicks off they are massively outnumbered and only a handful actually carry tazers, the majority just have an extendable baton, and the Police Community Support Officers just have a high viz jacket lol.

Here in my part of the world though, in my experience, our community generally call the police as a last resort and the police themselves definitely turn a blind eye to 'community action' which helps retain a cohesive society.
A couple of years ago a neighbour of mine had a frightening stalker issue with an ex-partner, I called the cops only to confirm my rights regarding 'reasonable force' but the cop who came to my house basically said "We haven't got the manpower to watch and wait so if you catch him in her garden and beat the # into him none of us are going to arrest you, just don't go over the top and stamp on his head when you've finished."

So to Devon & Cornwall police I say, there may be less of you on the streets but I love living in your force area compared to other parts of the UK I've lived in. Carry on being friendly decent cops as you do and our communities will mostly carry on being nice back.

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