Police workforce and funding in England and Wales

Document type
Disney, Richard; Simpson, Polly
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
15 May 2017
IFS Briefing Note; BN208
Social Policy, Employment
Social welfare
Material type

Download (243KB )

This briefing note provides background information on the police service in England and Wales. It details recent changes in police numbers and in police funding, and examines some indicators of police performance in the light of these changes. Finally, it considers briefly the Labour Party’s proposal to increase the number of police officers.

Key findings:

  • The number of full-time-equivalent police officers in England and Wales fell by 14%, or almost 20,000 officers, between 2009 and 2016. This has undone the workforce expansion of the 2000s – there are now fewer police officers in England and Wales than there were in the late 1990s.
  • The Labour Party have pledged that, if elected, they would increase the number of police officers by 10,000 by 2021–22, which they have costed at £300 million. This could return officer employment to around the level it was in 2012.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, employment of non-officer staff has fallen faster than employment of officers – by 23%. As a result, total employment in the police service has fallen by 17.4%, and officers’ share of police employment has risen.

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