New research has shown how easy it is for officers to avoid consequences for their actions – but the facts have also revealed an unusual trend.
Of 310,320 officers, only 248 underwent a performance review and only 24 to 44 were fired for poor performance.
Compared to that low number, the research also found that nearly ten times as many officers “died on duty.”
The research was collated by 11 government agencies as part of Freedom of Information requests by the Effective Governance Forum group.
The EGF, a cross-party campaign group calling for improved public services and arguing that shifting power out of Whitehall could cut government costs, says the figures show the civil servants' jobs are “quite comfortable”.
The 11 departments that provided the figures represent about 60 percent of the total public sector workforce, although six departments – including some that have come under particular criticism for their handling of various crises and disputes – have refused to provide their own figures delivery.
Among the ministries that did not disclose their layoff rates were the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Office, whose handling of the small boat crisis and the evacuation from Afghanistan, respectively, has raised questions about the ministries' competence.
Of the figures disclosed, the small number of civil servant firings accounts for about 0.01 percent.
This compares to the private sector, where the OECD estimates the average staff layoff rate at 3 to 4 percent.
That is more than six times higher than in Whitehall.
Patrick Barbour, the founder of the EGF, said the figures show that the UK system of government avoids penalizing poor performance.
“This is one of the main causes of low productivity in the public sector, which is seeing its fastest workforce growth in half a century. Our system of government is broken and needs radical reforms.”
Tim Knox, also a member of the campaign group, added: “Many have felt for some time that a job in the public sector can be quite comfortable. Despite the many examples of government collapse, this data shows that hardly anyone is ever fired for poor performance.
“This can only be a management failure – and the sooner this is recognized and acted upon, the better.” To do nothing about it would be unfair to taxpayers, unfair to officials who actually work hard, and untenable.”
Conservatives have for years derided “The Blob,” the idea that officials, unions, quangos and sections of the media are deliberately thwarting their democratic mandate to impose their own will.
From Brexit to vigilance, the government has consistently battled groups with power and vested interests to exert control and resist such slips into vigilance.