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Mark Wadsworth

YES, more police presence on the streets has to be a good thing. Surely this is a fairly failsafe vote winner?

Andy Hemsted

Not a bad idea. Another one would be to cull 15 to 20% of the newly employed civil servants and offer them all jobs as police officers. As they obviously feel the need to serve their country they can do something usefull for a change.
We should also consider getting rid of canteens in police stations. Instead of going back to the station for lunch/dinner/coffee the officers should stop in or around their local shopping areas.
I know people will mention the cost to the officers, but from police officers I know, many chains of shops offer them cheap or even free food.

Angelo Basu

Is this really a policy? Is there anything stopping police forces from deploying officers this way that needs intervention from central government?

While I appreciate that this is merely anecdotal, I know from my sister-in-law who is a PC in Hampshire that officers in Southampton already routinely patrol on their own, even during their 2 year probabtionary period, so unless Hampshire constabulary are doing something illegal there doesn't sound like any real substance to the proposed policy.

Yes to more resources for the police, lightening the administrative burden and increasing the visibility and community involvement of police forces, but no to the temptation to meddle in operational matters which surely police forces are much better placed to opine upon than politicians?

To cut administration perhaps it would be a good idea to re-integrate the CPS with the Police. It was worthwhile to make prosecutions independent of the police in the 80s to tackle the rising tide of clear miscarriages of justice but now that those changes are ingrained in the culture of the police it would be a big efficiency inducing measure to get the police doing policing and the CPS doing case preparation co-operatively with them, rather than duplicating the effort by requiring police officers to spend large amounts of time doing file management functions taking them away from their primary role. There might still be a value to keeping an independent specialist prosecution service for major crimes but for the majority of crimes (and hence the bulk of the workload) there is unnecessary duplication of effort for minimal protection of civil liberties.

Johnny Smythe

Ye Gods - the sooner we bring in elected Chief Costables the sooner people like VB can butt out of meddling in policing practices. CSO's generally police in pairs, most police constables patrol their beats on their own. Of course I understand that law & order is an issue that all mayoral candidates must deal with but please don't tell Chief Superintendents how to do their jobs in their police boroughs. As a politician VB should be explaining how she will deliver the extra resources to the front line. VB wants police officers to live and patrol locally...well wrong, most police officers do not want to live on their patches (think of the brick through window scenario when the local yobs discover where you live). The Met Police used to have Section Houses so young officers could live close to the stations, but they started selling those off back in the early 90's - under a certain Home Secretary called Michael Howard. Is VB advocating the re-introduction of Section Houses? If so tell us how you are going to cough up the money to buy/convert the properties required.

A parting word to any other Mayoral candidates thinking of entering the Law & Order debate. Try talking to the people who actually do the job before spouting off meaningless sound bites like 'proximity policing'.

The sooner Lord Stevens throws his hat into the Mayoral ring the better!


After yesterday's comments about some of the poor policies on here recently, I think the editor must have deliberately chosen one today which everyone will agree with!

One comment though, it is not practicable to expect policemen to "live" in the area they police, at least not in large cities like London. How many police can afford to live on Campden Hill near Victoria Borwick, other than possibly in social housing which, particularly as a police officer, they would not want to do. In less smart areas, they also probably don't want to be known as a local policeman when off-duty. Even from the early Peelite days the Met was recruited largely from outside London (such as from former agricultural workers).

But that does not mean that they cannot become part of the community in their working hours.

One thing I would add is the need to keep officers in the same area for much longer than they are now - both so they get to know the area better and more people get to know them. There is now a distrust of the police even amongst the middle classes who previously revered them, but this can be overcome by the knowledge of individuals. Continuity could be helped by having more of a career structure for community policing so they can be promoted but still work in the same area. As well as liaison at the most local level, there could also be a v senior and high profile officer in charge of community policing for each major city; community-nominated awards for the best local police officer; a City-wide registered supporters' scheme so that community policemen and local community groups can get together for meetings, to share ideas etc - basically set up structures whereby policing that starts with Victoris's two officers walking the patch in sight of each other but not together, is seen as a high prestige and high profile part of the total force rather than, I suspect, as a backwater that the ambitious officer wants to pass through as quickly as possibly before pursuing his or her career in more respected specialties.

Tom Greeves

What view(s) do the Police take about this? There may be very good operational reasons why they prefer to patrol in pairs.

Ultimately, this is the sort of decision I would prefer to leave to a Chief Constable.


I was wrong - whilst writing my post this proposal received a broadside against it.

Just because a policy does not require legislation it does not mean it is not a policy. A London Mayor has major responsibility for policing, so it is perfectly reasonable for political parties who aspire to get their mayoral candidate elected to indicate their approach. It is also absolutely right for those of us being policed to have views on how it should be done, and those views need to be articulated by politicians.

The record of the Met in recent years is not such as to inspire confidence that "the police always know best" - perhaps Johnny Smythe comes from a part of the country where the police have an unblemished record of wise, measured and effective leadership, with courteous police that don't scowl at you in the street or shoot at, and arrest, people on spec. Unfortunately this idyll does not exist in London. Whilst Lord Stevens was clearly much better than the present appalling Commissioner, he cannot be held entirely blameless for the poor ethos of the present Met.

Of course any policies needs to be discussed with those implementing them, but I doubt if this is any more controversial to the police than it would be with the general public.

George Hinton

Often two officers walking in tandem will be deep in conversation, oblivious to what's around them and providing an intimidatory presence to other users of the narrow and crowded pavements.
Proximity policing should ensure a more concentrated and effective effort, better accessability to the people, and hopefully a better deterrent to the criminal and his enterprise.
All we need to deal with now are the stations themselves and make them more accessable and open.

Wat Tyler

As others have said, we all want to see more police on our streets.

But I agree with Tom- this is something we should leave to Chief Constables. They should be trusted to make all operational decisions and answer to local electors for the results.



Is the solution really this sort of micro-management? A government policy on the number of paces between policemen on duty?


Hear hear Tom Geeves. Are police operational methods the sort of thing politicians should be interfering with? I thought part of our approach was to trust the professionals.
Perhaps a more valid subject would be the 'spanish practices' that exist within the police force over their retirement policies.

Mike Christie


Make chief constables accountable to the local people. This should make them police in a way that suits the environment. After that leave well alone.

The police need LESS diktats from central government on how to do their job, not more. Make the police directly accountable to their local communities, then let them decide how best to police their own environments.

Automated Robot

I applaud challenge and creative thinking - but the risks and drivers for this are so local, and of such an operational nature, that this cannot be the stuff of national policy.

I will not vote therefore.

John Peters

No. This is central government telling people how to do their jobs. It's the sort of meddling by politicians I dislike.

Patsy Sergeant

In an ideal world of course what VB is advocating is the ideal policy, but unfortunately this is not an ideal world, and as long as we don't have enough police - for whatever reason - staff have to be deployed as effectively as possible.

I do not agree with single policemen patrolling even if they are supposed to be within sight of each other. If they are to keep each other in sight when there are disruptive drunks around (and when are there not these days even in country towns!), then they can't give undivided attention to 'observing', and this counters another persons post that if they are in pairs they will be concentrating to much on their own conversation!

I think the local Chief Constable should be capable and left to make staff decisions himeself - probably some are not as capable as others, but that is sods law!

I think that expecting/hoping that policemen can mostly - if not all - be 'homegrown' is unrealistic in this dayanage. Of course it is the ideal. But I do agree that more police on the streets is essential. Motorised Inspector Gadget may be popular with the whizz kid young policeman - as with so many 'boy-racer types' - but it is entirely removed from the public that they are supposed to be part of and helping.

We just need MORE POLICE, and not this odd idea.

Phil Taylor

I agree that ideally this kind of operational decision should be left to Chief Constables and Borough Commanders who in turn should be accountable.

The experience I have in West London is that too many policemen spend too much time sauntering down the street chatting to each. Whilst they do this they are not using their eyes or engaging the public.

The ultimate answer is local accountablility. The ultimate tool for that is for us all to personally confront our police when we find them behaving unacceptably and ask them to stop chatting and start policing.


There are barely enough police officers to cover the basic shift of officers who simply respond to calls from the public. The areas we cover are so wide and varied that without a car the basic job of simply responding to the public cannot be done, and even then it has to be prioritised meaning certain people are left waiting for long periods. If what is being proposed were to be effective it would mean a vast increase in police numbers (real police not PCSO's).
People go on about more beat bobbies as if it were some kind of panacea to the problem of crime. They are not.
The best way of helping the police would be to introduce laws forcing the courts to bang up criminals when the police catch them, building the necessary prison places to accomodate them and making it a hell hole while they are there. National Service would also make a massive difference.
The police clearly is'nt perfect - but when has it been? I am convinced that politicians should stop tampering with the police to solve crime and instead sort out the rest of the criminal justice system which undermines them with consistently lenient sentencing and a complete absence of punishment.
We do catch the criminals and put them before the courts wherever possible. There is no one who hates criminals more than the police. We spend months preparing cases against criminals who are then given a "community sentence", basically a slap on the wrist. Criminals are laughing - and very loudly - at all the decent members of society and particularly the police whose purpose is undermined thousands of times over in courts up and down the land.
It's time the Tories got serious about law and order. The police can always improve, but please realise the major problem is elsewhere.
Beat Bobbies walking in "proximity" is no more than a gimmick. GET REAL!

Matthew Scott

If they are in sight of another officer, aren't they out together anyway?

PCSO's (whatever you think of them) can not go out on patrol on their own for a year. So you would have to have another officer with them for a whole year, so you only really have the same number of patrols.

Not only do we need more police, but we need better policing. Not to criticise the hardworking officers we have now, but PCSOs were brought in as a stop gap between the public and prison cell, so there is a visible presence while PCs and PSs fill out all the paperwork they are burdened with.

If you arrest a child these days, you have to fill out 27 forms. Why not cut bureaucracy instead?

Mike Christie

If you haven't voted, please remember that the vote is on whether this is a good policy for the party to put forward (which would assume that we tell police forces to operate this way) rather than voting on whether this is a good way for the police to patrol urban environments.

Do we really intend to indulge in NuLab control freakery that assumes that police methods that work in Brixton will work in Brixham and vice versa?


"Do we really intend to indulge in NuLab control freakery that assumes that police methods that work in Brixton will work in Brixham and vice versa?"

I'm afraid that until the police get their act together this may be the only way.

Mike Christie

"I'm afraid that until the police get their act together this may be the only way."

Of course it isn't, since when did taking responsibility for day-to-day decisions away from trained, experienced professionals and giving it to centralised bureaucrats make anything better?

Make the police responsible to the public, directly, so they no longer have to dance to a politically-correct, politically-driven Home Office agenda and they will soon start to police individual communities in the best way for that community.

I can't believe this ridiculous, Nu-Lab style, Whitehall knows best policy actually got approved.

What next, a 'focus on street crime initiative'?


I'm stunned that this has been passed in view of all the comments above.


"Make the police responsible to the public, directly, so they no longer have to dance to a politically-correct, politically-driven Home Office agenda and they will soon start to police individual communities in the best way for that community."

I'm afraid that increasing numbers of police are starting to believe in a politically correct and politically driven agenda. That is why I have little faith in them being able to run their own affairs.

I agree that greater local control is a better idea but that isn't the question we're being asked to vote on.

Mike Christie

"I agree that greater local control is a better idea but that isn't the question we're being asked to vote on."

No we are being asked to vote on furthering the NuLab micro-management of trained, experienced professionals by amateurs, and on Whitehall officials imposing more blanket ideas that assume a one-size-fits-all strategy will give good results across the board and I despair that this idea got through.

As for the PC PCs, if they were directly accountable to the people they would soon adopt an attitude more in line with those they police. Also if Chief Constables faced losing their jobs if they didn't deliver effective policing to the satisfaction of the community, they'd have much less time to worry about diversity and other PC issues. The threat of impending unemployment can focus the mind on genuine priorities rather effectively.

It is the centralisation of power and the transfer of authority from elected bodies to appointed bodies that has made the rise of the PC culture so difficult to combat. Give people a real say in how things are run in their area and diversity and community relations will take care of themselves.

David Sergeant

It may depend on the police force but many of the incresed number of police have been finaced by scrapping civilian jobs (local government staff). The result is that uniformed officers have to do the civilian jobs, only, of course, usually worse. There is the dilema of calling for scrapping bureaucrats jobs for bobbies on the beat which sounds good but gives us worse policing.

The answer is to concentrate police on policing by scrapping PC laws and rules. Think of the money forces will save by not having to take copies of Social Work To-day!

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