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Police Officer headcount

Date of request: 11 January 2022
Reference: 045-22


I would like to request the annual headcounts (as at 31st March) for Police Officers broken down by Rank and by Directorate/Department from 2010 – 2021


Please find attached an excel workbook containing the information requested.

The first table shows total headcounts for each year since 2009/10.

The remaining tables show this information broken down by rank and directorate/department, for each year.

All figures are correct as at 31st March of each year. The directorate/department structure was not formally introduced until 2018 and so prior to this the directorate names may not be consistent.

Please see some additional notes above the first table, regarding what has and has not been included in the information provided.

Information relating to operationally sensitive directorates/departments has been removed in accordance with the following exemption:

Section 31(1) (a) and (b) – Law enforcement

Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely to prejudice:

(a) the prevention and detection of crime

(b) the apprehension and prosecution of offenders

This is a qualified, prejudice based exemption and therefore there is a requirement to evidence the harm and consider the public interest in disclosure.


Information concerning the number of individuals within operationally sensitive departments or directorates could identify Avon and Somerset Police’s capability and tactics used.

Factors favouring disclosure for section 31(1)

There is a public interest in the communities we serve being made aware of the facts relating to this area of policing in order to ensure openness and transparency. Disclosure of this information could go some way to assuring the public that we are appropriately equipped to tackle crime and that ensuring debates surrounding these issues are informed and accurate.

Factors favouring non-disclosure for section 31(1)

Releasing this information could identify where police resources are engaged and could identify operations thus enabling individuals or groups to become aware that their activities have been detected, therefore hindering the prevention and detection of crime.

Balancing Test

Vital as openness and transparency are for public trust and confidence in the police service, disclosure of information cannot be to the benefit of public trust and confidence in the police where it hinders the prevention and detection of crime. As such, the harms in disclosure not only outweigh but also undermine any purported benefits. For these reasons the argument is weighed clearly in favour of non-disclosure.

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