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Policing

You’ll Never Walk Alone – you will now

Picture from linked BBC storyGreat news. It seems that new Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has come round to the idea that the police should patrol on their own more often. Quite right too. I welcomed Sir Paul’s appointment at the end of January this year and at the time I called for more single-handed patrolling, see previous posting.

This morning on the Today programme the Police Federation spokesman Peter Smyth was typically wary. He should not be. The public have to walk alone so the idea that trained coppers wearing stab-proof vest, carrying pepper spray and telescopic batons with a radio to call for back-up can’t walk alone is simply unsupportable.

I raised this issue with Boris Johnson when I met him at the House of Commons at the start of his mayoral campaign.

As I said three years ago:

It seems to me that two policemen patrolling together will spend most of their time chatting and miss a lot. Anyone who has travelled on their own will tell you that you meet loads more people on your own than you do as a couple. Two policemen, one each side of a busy road, will provide two sets of eyes and many more positive interactions with the public than two on the same side of the road. It is not hard. Next time you see a couple of coppers walking down the road why don’t you suggest they each walk down one side?

See BBC coverage here (from where I borrowed the picture used above) and the Daily Telegraph here.

4 replies on “You’ll Never Walk Alone – you will now”

I suspect we won’t see Police Officers or PCSOs on their own on South Acton Estate, Green Man Lane Estate, Drayton Bridge Estate and Copley Close Estate for quite some to time yet.

In regard to single patrolling and as a police officer, I believe this is having far too negative effect on officers already. There is a huge amount of unrest amongst officers and morale is sliding fast.

The safer neighbourhoods teams have been a great success and I believe that this is where single patrolling comes into its own. However, at present response teams are being made to single patrol, putting the majority of officers on foot.

I, like many of my colleagues have no issues with walking whatsoever. In fact I love being out in the open, rather than stuck in a car. The problems come with responding to a 999 call, which we are supposed to do withing 12 minutes. On occasion, we may be just around the corner, but in reality, we are not.

Then when we do turn up to an incident, we have to gain as much information as possible before making a dynamic risk assessment as to whether we wait for back up, or go in alone. Can you imagine the outrage it would cause if a police officer didn’t put themself at risk and decided to wait? Back up again, may be just around the corner, but again, in reality most of the time is not.

To give an example of a real life recent incident, where a twenty something drunk, high on drugs male is abusing his mother who has called police.

Myself and a colleague get there and he’s passed out. The mother wants him out, so we have to wake him. He wakes and immediately becomes aggressive towards all of us. I’ve been taught and learned that verbal abuse, however aggressive can’t hurt you and it doesn’t, even if it’s scary.

So at this stage, we have no reason to use force but try diplomacy instead. My colleague, who has recently suffered a broken jaw at the hands of another high on drugs male, takes the back seat while I try to talk the guy down.

The male, who is twice my size, shouting and swearing just inches away from my face for all he is worth, then attempts to get to his mother, so I use my arm to force him out of the room into a narrow hall, where his aggression intensifies and he is telling me in his loudest voice that if I touch him again he is going to ‘touch me’.

Now at this stage, I am thinking “this guy is about to attack me, my colleague and his mother. I’m in a narrow hall, full of shelving with ornaments and plants and stuff all over the floor and don’t have enough room to use my baton. I can’t use my CS spray as it’s an enclosed area and I’ll be affected by the spray as well, even if I did, how will I get it out and arm myself before he hits me?”

So, I prepare myself for the fact that this guy is going to hit me and try to work out which hand he’ll hit me with and how I’ll block it. Then how I will have to try with all my might to keep him restrained as we are rolling around on the floor, how I’m probably going to end up injured by this male and that I have to protect my colleague and the mother.

I know that once on the floor my colleague will assist at the risk of getting injured again, but this guy is more than capable of taking the two of us and a couple more.

Now during all this, my colleague, who is petite, is calling for urgent back up and giving the exact location to my other colleagues, providing the details of how many officers are needed, which stairs to take into the high rise block and how to get to the front door itself, who the male is, so that further intelligence can be gained etc, etc, etc. While I keep trying the talking technique thinking “if I can just keep it going that little bit longer…the others will arrive and we’ll all be fine.”

So I ask you, put yourself in that situation and tell me, what would you do if you were standing there, on your own due to single patrol, trying to weigh up all this information and trying to call up on your radio, giving all the details that my colleague gave. How would if affect the way you would deal with it?

There seems to be this illusion that police officers don’t feel the same as the general public. Well let me tell you, we do. We get scared, we are not all alpha males screaming for a fight.

We are everyday people, that try to protect others and would ask that we have the same protcection afforded to us. Single patrolling on a response team is dangerous. The story above is a mild incident as far as the many more serious ones that I could’ve chosen, but I think it displays an accurate EVERYDAY incident.

It turned out that the male had a kitchen knife concealed on him and also suffered from mental health issues. Upon seeing the several officers that arrived, the situation changed dramatically as he realised he was out numbered.

What if I would have waited on my own beforehand and this guy had woken to continue the abuse towards his mother and perhaps stabbed her. What if that was your mother? What would YOU expect me to do?
What if I went in and he stabbed me? What if it was your son or daughter you were sending in on their own? Still think it’s a good idea

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