Don’t let Tories anywhere near power in Holyrood – a lesson from police service staffing in England & Wales

By stewartb

The House of Commons Library (HoCL) has just published a briefing paper entitled ‘Police Service Strength’ (Briefing Paper SN-00634). It provides a comparison of police numbers in the four nations of the UK, including the change in numbers that have occurred over time. Below are highlights from the report.

The first graph (above) is the police officer strength (in thousands of Full Time Equivalents) between 2006 and 2020 in England & Wales. It reveals a period of relative stability in the total up to c. 2009 followed by a very marked fall during Tory dominance in Westminster.

The next graph provides data back to 1980. It shows up how remarkable the drop in numbers from 2009 to 2017 under Tory rule actually was when viewed in historical terms.

The HoCL reports that the number of police officers per head of population in England & Wales is presently 223 FTEs per 100,000.

Statistics for Scotland

The chart below plots total police officer strength (FTEs) for Scotland from 1985 to 2020.  It shows long term, steady rise followed by a short period of rapid rise, and then by a period of relative stability since c.2010. It was in April 2013 that the 8 police forces of Scotland were amalgamated under one command as Police Scotland.

The following graph, from a Scottish Government source (Police Officer Quarterly Strength Statistics Scotland, 31 December 2020), reveals more clearly the marked rise in police office numbers following the first SNP government coming to power in Holyrood.  In 2020 the number of place officers (FTEs) in Scotland according to the HoCL briefing was 17,234.

Data for Northern Ireland from the HoCL show that since 2000, there has been an overall decrease in the number of full-time regular police officers, with numbers rising slightly again in 2020. As of 1 July 2020, the FTE police officer strength in Northern Ireland was at 6,917 – a 5.4% decrease on 2010.

Comparative analysis (2008 to 2018)

Surprisingly perhaps (?), the HoCL omits to provide current data on numbers of police officers per 100,000 population in Scotland and NI, giving this metric only for England & Wales. However delving into an annex – a set of spreadsheets – finds data on this ratio for the four UK nations (and for other countries too) at least for the period 2008 to 2018.

For England & Wales,  since 2008 the police numbers have varied from between a high of 263 (in 2008) to a low of 207 (in 2018) per 100,000 population The equivalent metric across the same period for Scotland is notably different. The Scotland figures range between 322 (in 2008) and 321 (in 2018) per 100,000 population. Over the 10 years to 2018, the ratio in Scotland never fell below 319 per 100,000: over the same period the figure for England & Wales never rose above 263 per 100,000.

Latest data

We can use the HoCL briefing to calculate a comparable metric on police officer numbers in 2020.

Police numbers (FTE) in 2020 (HoCL)125,2767,1916,91717,234
Population size (HoCL table)56,286,9003,152,900  
Population size (ONS mid 2019 estimate)56,286,9613,152,8791,893,6675,463,300
FTEs per 100,000223228365315


The graphics below offer relevant background to the information on police numbers in Scotland. They give plots of official crime statistics from 1971 to 2020.

Source of graphs:

8 thoughts on “Don’t let Tories anywhere near power in Holyrood – a lesson from police service staffing in England & Wales

  1. Of course, if Scots ever want to enjoy the benefits of care ethics, then we’ll need to relieve ourselves from the anti-social burden of English Torydum. We’ll also need to undertake a thorough root-and-branch cleansing of ‘our’ justice system, which has been perverted so as to accommodate Westminster’s assumed legal supremacy, and hostility towards international law. We’ll also need to punt any clown-shoes judges who support genderwoowoo.

    Gender differences in COVID-19 attitudes and behavior: Panel evidence from eight countries


  2. re. Westminster’s assumed legal authority and the ethics of care. British constitutionalism only remained politically tolerable while Westminster notionally respected Scotland’s political will. This is no longer the case, as Westminster has empowered English Torydum to deny that Scotland was a co-founder of the British state. Which exemplifies Westminster’s hostility towards Scotland and international law.

    Morality, care, and international law

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Julia, same goes for Labour now as well, my god look at what they did and didn’t do for Scotland during their unquestioned reign then in particular their ten years at Hollywood. They did nothing whatsoever positive for Scotland, but they did plunge Scottish councils into £billions of debt with their PFI scam, sent £billions back to Westminster, ‘nothing to spend it on in Scotland’, half privatised Scottish water, ran down hospitals to sell the land to no doubt their pals to build expensive houses on…
      Aye, never allow these BritNat parties near power in Scotland, even the thought is terrifying.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If Scotland’s cope per capita matched England, we would have 5,000 fewer police (approx 12,200). If N.Ireland’s matched England, they would have 2,400 fewer police; approximately 4,500. Not exactly reassuring, is it?

    I wonder if the London police are proportionally higher than the rest of England, and rEngland’s per capita is lower still?


    1. Fret not upon such matters
      Because in the ever increasing likelihood of
      Serious civil unrest in England breaking out
      Then if such spreads rapidly they will not enough resources to quell and stop rapid spread and all due to their cut backs
      And all as Covid 19 caught them with their pants upon their ankles
      Spank Spank Spank Spank
      A sadists dream come alive
      Spank Spank Spank
      But all in the form of votes
      Pick up the Whip when ballots open
      Vote Spank Vote Spank Vote Spank
      Or Vote Guy Fawkes


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