Testing the Police Workforce Resilience Hypothesis

An application of labour economics to policing management

by Priscillia Hunt, Barrie Irving, Luca Farnia

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The UK National Policing Improvement Agency developed a 'National Workforce Modernisation Programme', which identified challenges regarding police force capacity and capability to cope with demands for day-to-day policing and policing of national imperatives, such as the 2012 Olympics. This study clarifies key concepts in policing workforce management and quantifies the relationship between police force human resource levels and composition and demand for policing. By employing an innovative and novel econometric approach, we are able to estimate the number of police officers needed to control crime.

This study starts with an introduction to the workforce programme and resiliency issues facing the police forces in England and Wales. We then build a framework to understand the ability of the police service to meet demands for policing as changes are made in the level and composition of its workforce. We pay particular attention to the relationship between police officers and police staff. We then provide empirical evidence regarding the number and composition of the workforce to meet different levels of demand. Whilst the empirical work in this study may be considered an academic exercise, it brings to light many issues facing police force management, such as how to think about the optimal investment decisions, ways of reducing costs and the nature of the relationship between police force numbers and crime rates. The report concludes with a discussion of data and knowledge gaps.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Towards a conceptual framework of resilience in policing

  • Chapter Three

    Quantification of three states of resilience in the FORM Framework

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions and discussions

  • Appendix A

    An in-depth discussion of production and productivity issues in policing

  • Appendix B

    Econometric analysis of workforce resilience

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Workforce Programmes Unit of the National Policing Improvement Agency and conducted by RAND Europe.

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