Staffordshire police spend just 13 per cent of time on the beat
POLICE officers in Staffordshire spend less than 13 per cent of their time on the beat, according to a new report.
Research released by the TaxPayers' Alliance shows it effectively costs £704,922 per year to keep one Staffordshire officer 'visible and available' to the public.
The organisation, which has compiled information on 43 forces in England and Wales, says most of police officers' and PCSOs' time is taken up by red tape.
Staffordshire Police ranks 17th in the study of officer visibility, with officers spending 12.8 per cent of their time on the beat.
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Cheshire Police is seventh, with 13.6 per cent of bobbies' time spent on the front line.
Both forces' new Police and Crime Commissioners have pledged to increase frontline policing.
Staffordshire Police is making cuts of £34 million by 2015 and will see officer numbers fall to 1,750 – down from a 2006 peak of 2,347.
However Staffordshire PCC Matthew Ellis says he has a five-point plan to increase officer visibility.
He said: "I said as part of my manifesto that, on average, only 11 per cent of officers' time is spent on the frontline.
"This is absolutely unacceptable. We need to get officers back out there and stop the requirement to come into the office for the slightest thing.
"I want to see Staffordshire Police as the most technologically advanced in the country. We are putting that in place already.
"In 18 months' time it will be a completely different ball game."
John Dwyer, Cheshire's PCC, said increasing visibility was also top of his priorities. "I am delighted that the 2012 figures show Cheshire to be amongst the top seven forces when it comes to public visibility," he said.
"Nevertheless, we clearly have got a lot more to do in making sure that uniformed officers are visible and available to serve the public in their communities.
"This means doing more to tackle bureaucracy and the issues which reduce officer availability.
"As we enter 2013, I will be sitting down with the Chief Constable to look at ways in which we can reduce the paperwork and processes that keep officers in police stations."
The findings have not surprised crime victim Ken Rome, of Knypersley, whose garage was ram-raided in November.
The 50-year-old, who runs Road and Race Motorcycles, said: "It's just not right. I was in Biddulph recently when I saw someone stealing some fencing. I went to the police station and pressed the buzzer and told them what was happening. I was told I would be put through but I was standing there for 15 minutes and got nowhere.
"I walked up and down looking for a police officer and there was no-one."
The TaxPayers' Alliance report names the City of London as the force which had the lowest share of officers on the beat, with 7.2 per cent. The highest was West Yorkshire, with 16.3 per cent.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager for the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It is vital that police forces improve their efficiency."