Let me clarify my position from the start. I honestly believe that cuts to the police service both in the number of officers and civilian support staff will in the fullness of time have a serious financial, social and political impact upon this country. I do however get annoyed when I hear politicians and others when they waffle on about putting officers back on the beat. If the number of uniform police officers doubled overnight I would argue that there still wouldn’t be enough to put them onto beats, but I would argue louder that this is not a productive use of officers. We would all love to see a Constable patrolling our estates and keeping order, but it’s a pipe dream. Night time in busy town centres requires officers to patrol in sufficient numbers to deal with rowdy drunks, those that want to fight or generally misbehave. Insufficient numbers is a risk to the safety of the officers and makes them ineffective. If you could remove the need for officers to patrol busy town centres or other events such as policing football games, demonstrations or marches you might, just might be able to put ‘bobbies back on the beat’, but is that really what we want?
If an area has no or very low crime then there is no point putting coppers on the ground. They might reassure residents that everything is nice and safe, but do we really want to pay coppers just to reassure us. The reality is that coppers get posted to an area where there is crime or social issues requiring their attendance and the idea of a copper walking around a busy patch without a care in the world just doesn’t happen. The reality is that coppers are more likely to be dispatched to deal with an incident than walking around looking for anything untoward. As eggs are eggs before the first incident has been dealt with the control room will have several other incidents all lined up for the next available officer to attend. Many officers spend their entire duty responding to calls for police to attend and if they are lucky enough to have a quite day they will be looking for offenders and using stop and search powers when appropriate.
Every incident that an officer deals with needs to be recorded and a crime arrest will see bundles and bundles of documents requiring completion and as such officers spend a large part of their day putting pen to paper.
There are many inside duties within a police station particularly if an officer is engaged on a major enquiry requiring lots of research which will impact on the number of officers on patrol.
So the next time you hear a politician waffling on as to how they intend to put more coppers on the beat take it with a pinch of salt, because it’s all BS.