I saw this headline in the Telegraph this morning:
Police complain orders to patrol alone puts them in danger
I think their story was a rehash of a Daily Mail story with a somewhat more forthright headline:
Whining bobbies in Facebook campaign against single police patrols
Both newspapers demonstrated why they will be going out of business sometime soon – they refused to provide a link to the Facebook page they were writing about. Linking has been the whole point of the web since it was created by Tim Berners-Lee 20 years ago. The Facebook page is here. The 1,000 people that have signed up seem to be a mixture of PCSOs, retired policemen and their families. They are wrong.
They say “ban single patrols of police”. This position is as silly as one that says all police patrols should be single handed. I would not want to go out on my own in many parts of inner city London at night. Similarly, most of London during the day is safe enough for a single PCSO to patrol. Otherwise we would have to advise the public in general to stay at home unless they had an escort.
The campaign seems to be the work of a woman called Angi Butcher-McDermott from Kent who said she is unwilling to apply to become a PCSO if made to patrol alone in dangerous areas. That is reasonable. Banning single patrolling isn’t. As a man of a certain age I might be forgiven for suggesting that if she wants to do a man’s job and earn a man’s wage she should take the same risks. Has 40 odd years of feminism really passed this woman by?
The new Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson has suggested that there should be more single patrolling. He is right. If it is not safe for coppers to go out on their own most of the time in most of London then we might as well just give up. Single patrolling means that coppers have to talk to the public and can’t just chat to their buddy and ignore us. It makes them more approachable by definition as they have no-one else to talk to! Single patrolling has to give us more bang for our policing buck. That said there are many occasions when double patrolling is appropriate and this can only be an operational judgement of the chain of command.
The double patrolling mindset that Stephenson is trying to overturn was demonstrated in one of the Safer Neighbourhood Team adverts the Met themselves put out three years ago. Their own ads (see picture at top) show two coppers doing the work of one. One talks to a woman whilst the other just goofs around.
Update: Now picked up by Standard here. They are leading on it – certainly online.
Their editorial says:
Sir Paul is right. His detractors show more concern for their convenience than the public they are meant to serve.