Blog: "The ‘extra officer’ cupboard is empty"

06 November 2018

National Chair John Apter

National Chair John Apter

National Chair John Apter explains why 'extra officers' doesn't actually mean more officers policing our streets.

Time and time again we hear from politicians, the media – and indeed chief officers – who tell the public that ‘extra officers’ will be out on patrol, often in response to a significant incident or incidents.

It is done of course to reassure the public and provide the high visibility patrols that have been lost over the years due to the decimation of policing.

Sorry to burst the bubble of those who are spinning this lie but the reality is that this is pure fantasy. The ‘extra officers’ line is trotted out time and time again and the media simply run with it, not challenging the fact there are no ‘extra’ officers at all. Where does anyone think these officers come from? The policing tree? The ‘Extra Officer Store’ where rows of eager cops are sat ready and waiting for their chance to be deployed?

‘Extra officers’ are simply the same officers doing more. The same officers taken from other areas of policing to go and do another job, whether that be from neighbourhood teams – where those even still exist – or from specialist departments; whether it be from other forces, or being called back to duty, or moved around to cover the next policing crisis, temporarily leaving their actual jobs behind while they try to stem the flow of burgeoning workloads and provide visible reassurance and help to the very people they joined the job for in the first place.

They are the same people working longer hours, on extended or additional shifts. The same people who are called back to work on their days off, or called back from well-needed holidays and precious time off with their families. The same people who, once they have done the extra work, will then go back to their ‘normal’ jobs and try to cope with the backload of work that has continued to come in.

There are no extra officers. We have no extra officers. In times of crisis my colleagues, those dedicated men and women who want to do their best, will step up and do what they can but the reality is that every day is a crisis in policing. Every day.

This is not sustainable and we are pushing people to the edge.

So let’s stop perpetuating the myth there are extra officers. Let’s stop kidding the public about these additional resources. The wool is being pulled over their eyes by a Government who doesn’t care about policing. The policing cupboard has been bare for a very long time.