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Police Numbers

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

18. How many front-line police officers there were in England (a) in 1997 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available. (306232)

In March 2009, 125,891 police officers, 87 per cent. of total strength, were deployed to operational roles in England and Wales. Improvements in how forces match work force resources to demand from the public across the range of force functions will further improve responsiveness, public confidence and value for money.

I thank the Minister for that reply, and credit where credit is due, the Government have kept their promise and put more police on the streets, which was very necessary. Will they consider special constables specifically? They do a wonderful job in Essex, as I am sure they do in other constabularies. Will the Government have a drive to get more special constables?

Indeed, the hon. Gentleman makes a very valid point. We will have a special constables promotion weekend to celebrate that very shortly, and one thing I have done is write to all hon. Members to ask them to participate. I am also—this comes from the White Paper—looking at how we can deploy special constables to help with deployment issues, so that we get full-time officers working on other areas, where their skills are more needed. The hon. Gentleman’s point is very important and one that I support.