This briefing paper explore police service strength data from the Home Office, Scottish Government, and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Each country receives individual analysis utilising the available data from each police force area and international comparisons where available.

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United Kingdom: Total police officer strength in the United Kingdom increased year on year between 2003, when there were 155,000 officers, and 2010, when there were just over 171,600. Since 2010 the number of police officers has fallen each year except in the last. At 31 March 2019 there were just over 150,000 police officers operating within the United Kingdom. This was a reduction of 3.3% compared to 2003; a decrease of 12.4% from 2010 but a rise of 0.4% from 2018.

England & Wales: on 31 March 2019, there were 126,326 police officers in England and Wales compared with 125,651 on 31 March 2018. The latest data suggest that there were 12,784 police officers at 30 September 2019. Counting the Central Service Secondments (CSS) and British Transport Police (BTP) the total was 128,1493. 

Scotland: on 31 March 2019, there were 17,251 police officers in Scotland compared with 17,170 on 31 March 2018. The latest data for 31 December 2019 shows that there were 17,259 (FTE) police officers in Scotland. This was an increase of 0.5% compared to December 2018.

Northern Ireland: at the beginning of July 2019, there were 6,716 police officers in Northern Ireland. The latest data for 1 February 2020 shows that there were 6,873 (FTE) police officers and 2,327 police staff in supporting roles in the Northern Ireland. 

  • Commons Research Briefing SN00634
  • Authors: Grahame Allen, Lukas Audickas
  • Topics: Police

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