That is, indeed, the question.
To me the answer is an unequivocal YES. In my mind there is no option, it doesn’t need thinking about, it’s a No Brainer.
But then, my mind doesn’t always sync with everybody else’s.
It occurs to me that it’s nearly half a century since my boots hit the streets of North West London for the very first time and things were most definitely very different in those days. We had Reliefs, at first 3, later 4 and for a crazy while 5 (but that didn’t really work). Each Relief comprised one Inspector, probably 3 Sergeants, maybe 4, and about 20ish Constables. The Division covered maybe 10-12 square miles, and in an ideal world we would aim to field one Area Car (double-crewed possibly with a 3rd officer as ‘Observer’), one Van (normally double-crewed), five Pandas (notionally single-crewed but often seen double-crewed), one unmarked General Purpose car (single-crewed), one Section Sergeant and one Inspector, all patrolling. Anybody left over was posted to a Foot Patrol and cadged a lift when the Inspector wasn’t looking. And we were busy, although nowhere near as busy as the troops are today.
If we ever needed help (and we did often) it was never far away. Whilst we frequently moaned that we were ‘short’ we were NEVER as short as things are today.
We had more cops, we had more vehicles, we had more overtime, and we just about kept afloat, and we undoubtedly had fewer jobs. It was a matter of personal and professional pride to get all your jobs done. Handing too many over to the following shift frequently resulted in raised eyebrows.
Now I know that there’s a balance to be struck here, but more jobs, fewer cops, fewer vehicles and less overtime makes the officers more vulnerable. Yes, there is better PPE available but use it at your peril, particularly Taser, you’ll have Sophie and IPCC on your case. However, an officer off sick, or worse, in hospital, due to being assaulted and injured on duty is no use to man nor beast. What little officers we have left need to be fit, available and on duty. Assaults on Police Officers are escalating all the time.
The mere sight of a double-crewed vehicle will deter some idiots from taking on the officers.
I fully understand that numbers are down, but is that a valid reason NOT to double-crew? The safety (and thereby availability) of the officers MUST be paramount surely? Like many other public services the NHS, for example, has a Zero Tolerance policy on violence (or even threats) towards staff. When will the Police Chiefs adopt this policy?
Going back to the beginning, my old Division was only 10-12 square miles. Bronwen’s boyfriend Dai tells me that on Night Duty he (single-crewed) is frequently the only Police Vehicle to cover 400 square miles. One of my Twatter contacts told me last night that they were frequently the only DC to cover a large, busy county on nights. How can that be right? Either case, not right, reckless. What about Elf n Safety?
The population at large is increasing. Police numbers are still reducing. Just how low will the Populace/Police ratio go before it is unsafe? Has it already reached that stage? Is anybody from the NPCC or various Staff Associations ever going to stand up to the Home Secretary and demonstrate how unsafe this lunacy is?
We may not have sufficient officers to routinely double-crew, but that doesn’t mean “Double-Crewing Bad”. It means the bosses should be finding their voices and fighting back. What was that old expression? Acquiescing by silence. That’s exactly what is going on.
I know from last night’s conversations that there are Police Officers out there who don’t agree with routine double-crewing, all I can say is that I hope you never experience the need first hand before you become convinced.
In this day and age, nearly half a century later, the world has moved on. Double-Crewing or Single? Double every time in my book, and NPCC can fight for the resources to sustain it.