bovlomov wrote: ... But was the HO correct? There are different ways to calculate the costs and benefits. It could be that it isn't worth it if one thinks in the short term, but it becomes worth it if one considers the societal effects.
I don't have a view either way, but a decision made by bean counters is rarely best for society. Not the bean counters' fault - they only have to balance this year's books.
I must have posted before, that in the twilight of my career, I had to get up early during a night week and travel to Odsal in Bradford to have this explained. I was tired, grumpy and probably affected by demob happiness. The general drift, explained by a senior officer of some practical experience to a roomful of incredulous but respectful colleagues, was that patrolling police were ineffective. This was based on Home Office research showing that patrolling police witnessed very little serious crime. (Thinks) Might this be because they were deterring it? I came close to pointing out that anybody coming into that room would have been unlikely to offend so the question was how far we might be spread apart before that deterrent effect was reduced. I bit my tongue.
I think it's fair to say that visible policing only deters things which mainly happen in public. Of interest to vulnerable road users are driving offences, which are deterred by visible police patrols. The priorities have changed to things which tend to happen behind closed doors and so demand a bigger detective effort.
A lot of this is perception, of course, but perceptions are important. As a panda car driver many years ago, a lot of what appeared to be patrolling was driving from one reported incident (not only as in crash) to another. One illusion replaced by others perhaps: reports of crackdowns, tweets and twittering, PCSO's etc. Meanwhile drivers believe that the chance of detection is small if they are careful about cameras.