A new release calendar has been launched on GOV.UK. The Publication Hub website will soon be decommissioned.

Skip to content

Related topics

Other UK statistics

Comprises collections from the police in England and Wales on numbers of police officers and staff in post, recruits and leavers.


Multi agency public protection arrangements annual report
Department: Justice
Statistics regarding various aspects of the delivery of Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) in England and Wales.
Police Officer Quarterly Strength Statistics, Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
This publication presents statistics on Police Officer Quarterly Strength, which give the number of full-time equivalent police officers employed by the eight Scottish police forces.
Police Workforce, England and Wales
Department: Home Office
Statistics on police workforce numbers in the 43 police forces in England and Wales and the British Transport Police.
Police service strength, England and Wales
Department: Home Office
Statistics on police strength for the 43 police forces of England and Wales and for the British Transport Police. From July 2013, 'Police Service Strength, England and Wales' has been re-titled 'Police Workforce, England and Wales' in order to reflect more fairly the content of the release, and to coincide with its re-formatting to web based pages.

Back to the top


The annual statistical bulletin ‘Police Service Strength England and Wales (31 March)’ contains figures for numbers of police personnel in post as at 31 March, together with numbers of recruits and leavers in the 12 months to 31 March.

Further breakdowns by rank, gender and ethnicity of officer, as well as for police staff, designated officers, police community support officers (PCSO), traffic wardens and special constables. The bulletin contains figures down to police force area level, and supplementary tables contain officers and PCSOs in post at basic command unit level (BCU).

An intermediate bulletin ‘Police Service Strength England and Wales (30 September)’ contains less detail, concentrating on headline totals at police force area level for officers, staff and PCSOs in post.

Back to the top

Technical Data

Measures of Police Service Strength

In January 2001, a Police Numbers Task Force (PNTF) was established by the Home Secretary to look at problems with the existing data on police numbers and to produce recommendations on how this data might be improved. On the basis of the conclusions reached by the PNTF, a new data requirement for police force employees was developed.

One of the recommendations of the PNTF was that the data collected should enable a clear presentation of the numbers of staff employed by police forces as well as the number available for duty. The ‘all staff’ figure is a measure of the total full-time equivalent staff employed by the force, including staff seconded into the force and staff on any type of long or short-term absence. The head count of the number of staff available for duty excludes those on long-term leave of absence.

These new calculations for counting police numbers were first used to produce the police service strength at March 2003 and are not comparable with data prior to March 2003. Figures, calculated on the old or ‘comparable’ basis, which excludes those on career breaks and maternity/paternity leave, are provided in Police Service Strength England and Wales bulletins to allow comparison with figures prior to March 2003.

Joiners and leavers

A further recommendation of the PNTF was that the new data requirement should enable a reconciliation to take place for each force between the total number reported to the Home Office in a period, those joining and leaving in the subsequent period and the resulting new total. This required all joiners and leavers to be counted, including transfers to and from other police forces. Previously, transfers were excluded from joining and leaving figures.

Prior to 2003, police strength bulletins presented the number of joiners and leavers as a head count figure, but the data collection system introduced in April 2002 also provides a full-time equivalent figure. Full-time equivalent figures have been used in Tables five and six to be consistent with other tables in the bulletin.

Back to the top


  • Basic Command Unit (BCU)

    These equate to police divisions and are also referred to as Operational Command Units in some forces. As at April 1 2007 (and therefore for the reporting year 2007/08), there were 228 BCUs in England and Wales.

  • Designated Officers

    Designated Officers are people employed by the police authority who have been chosen by Chief Officers to exercise specified powers which would otherwise only be available to police officers. Designated police staff were introduced as part of the Police Reform Act 2002, sections 38 and 39 and legislation enables the appropriate designation of skilled police staff to one or more of four roles: police community support officer, investigation officer, detention officer and escort officer.

  • Full-time equivalent

    The primary measure for Home Office police service strength statistics. Full-time officers and staff are counted as 1.0, and part-time are counted according to the proportion of full-time worked (for example, an officer working 60 per cent of full-time hours is counted as 0.6). Alternative figures for head count are also published.

  • Headcount

    The alternative count where each officer or staff member are counted as 1.0 whether full-time or part-time. This is the only measure for special constables.

  • Joiners (police officers)

    Includes direct recruits and transfers from other England and Wales forces, but does not include officers returning after a period of secondment.

  • Leavers (police officers)

    Includes retirements (normal and medical), resignations, deaths and transfers to other England and Wales forces or other forces, but does not include officers leaving after a period of secondment.

  • Police Community Support Officers

    Police community support officers (PCSOs) are police staff employed by a police authority in a highly visible, patrolling role. They complement the work of police officers by focusing predominantly on lower level crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. They also free up police officer time by taking on those policing functions that do not require the full expertise of a police officer. The legislation for PCSOs was introduced as part of the Police Reform Act 2002. The Act enables force chief officers to designate PCSOs with limited enforcement powers. Unlike police officers they do not have the power of arrest, though they can be designated with a power to detain suspects for half an hour. The first PCSOs started work on the streets of London in September 2002.

Back to the top

Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Crime Statistics

Email: policestats@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7035 8308

Home Office 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF

Back to the top