Emergency services in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

Published by Daniel Clark, Feb 11, 2019
The emergency services in the United Kingdom consist of three main organizations, the Police Service, the Fire Service and the Emergency Medical Services. While the Police and Fire services are overseen by the Home Office, the Department of Health is responsible for the National Health Service, and by extension the Emergency Medical Services. In terms of officer numbers, the largest police force in the United Kingdom is the Metropolitan Police Force, responsible for policing Greater London. The Scottish Fire Brigade is the largest fire service in the UK with just under 6.5 thousand firefighters as of 2018.

Like many publicly-funded institutions in the United Kingdom, the emergency services have had to cope with years of budget cuts in the wake of austerity policies pursued by British governments since 2010. Between 2009/10 and 2013/14, for example, the Police Service expenditure for the UK fell from 19.3 billion to 16.35 billion British pounds. Fire services expenditure also declined during this period, experiencing a net decrease of 30 million British pounds between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

With less funding available the Police and Fire Services inevitably had to reduce their staffing levels. In 2010, for example, there were over 143 thousand police officers in England and Wales, compared with just over 122 thousand eight years later in 2018. The number of fire and rescue workers in England decreased by approximately 10 thousand people during the same time period. One of the likely factors behind a steep rise in crime in England and Wales recorded between 2013/14 and 2017/18 were underfunded police forces having to do more with less.

Unlike the police and fire services, the number of ambulance staff in England has actually increased since 2010, reaching a peak of over 20 thousand qualified staff in 2018. Nevertheless, ambulances in the United Kingdom have also had to contend with rising demand for their services, with the number of calls to ambulance services increasing by almost 1.3 million between 2011/12 and 2015/16.

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