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Armed Forces, Emergency and Security Services

Future Trends


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This sector – apart from private security and some prison services – is mainly funded by government money and so is vulnerable to cuts at times when public spending is being targeted as it is at the time of writing.

The armed forces (and especially the army) are predicted to continue to have a steady need for recruits – although there are plans to reduce the Ministry of Defences spend by 8% and 42,000 jobs are scheduled to be lost in the armed forces in the period up to 2015. This may affect recruitment in the future.  Some forces jobs - for example pilots in the RAF - are very competitive and this is not likely to change in the near future.

Emergency Services and Prison Services

Ambulance Services are part of the NHS and so growth is subject to funding of NHS.  The NHS has been protected by the Government to a certain extent from some of the public sector cuts but there are cost cutting plans inplace in local NHS trusts.  Having said this, 999 calls to the Ambulance Service have gone up by a third over the past 5 years so demand for the service remains high.  The NHS is currently campaigning and trying to educate the public to reduce the number of unnecessary calls to 999.

The Fire and Rescue, Police and Prison Services are part of the justice sector – which employs around 600,000 people, approximately 2% of the UK workforce, and is responsible for just over 5% of public spending annually.  

The Fire and Rescue Services employ approx 30,500 full-time fire fighers in England which is a decrease of 3.9% since 2004.  There is also a low staff turn over in these services which coupled with further public sector cuts will mean very low recruiment in an already competitive job sector.

The largest sub-sector is policing and law enforcement, which incorporates more than half of the total workforce in the sector. There is a planned reduction in the budget for Policing of 14% and so a reduction of numbers employed in the force is likely in the period up to 2015.  Although the target for cuts is mainly administration and back-office jobs there is likely to be some impact on recuritment to forces. West Midlands has 4 police forces employing 25,000 officers, staff and specials  approximately 10% of hte Police Serv ice.

Community justice, custodial care and fire and rescue services employ between 12-13% of the total sector workforce each.

Between 2002-2008, total employment in the sector grew by 34%, which is much greater than the growth in many other sectors.  The overwhelming majority of the workforce consists of employees on a permanent contract (98%), and the majority work in full-time jobs (86%).  Employment in the sector is considered fairly stable but is likely to see losses in the next few years up to 2015 as public funding cuts are carried out.

Workforce projections for 2010-2020, forecast a modest decrease of just under 6% in total employment in the UK justice sector.  The fall is expected to be the lowest in justice and judicial activities, and highest in fire service activities.


The majority of employers in the sector are large public sector employers (83% of the employees in the sector in Great Britain work in organisations with 50 or more staff).  There is also significant private sector involvement (for example, in the provision of custodial services).

The sector also has a large volunteer workforce with an estimated figure of tens of thousands.  In 2007, an estimated 27% of voluntary organisations (around 4,700 organisations) in England included criminal justice activities.  The majority of the volunteer workforce is represented in the community justice, police and law enforcement and custodial care sub-sectors.

The associate professional and technical major group dominate the occupational profile of the justice sector (54%), compared with 15% across the whole economy.


Employment and Skills within the UK Justice Sector 2010

Working Futures 2010 -2020 (December 2011)

Skills for Justice LMI March 2010

Employment and Skills within the UK Justice Sector 2010