To Double-Crew Or Not To Double-Crew?

Last updated on November 23rd, 2023 at 07:34 pm

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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.

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5 thoughts on “To Double-Crew Or Not To Double-Crew?”

  1. The government don’t care about the safety of the police or officers. The bosses are hand picked to tow the line and will only blame failures on the poor front line bobbies desperately trying to keep the wheel on despite it having fallen off already. People say ‘Wait til somebody is killed’. Well, bobbies HAVE been killed and violence is increasing.

    They. Don’t. Care.

    Neither do the courts. Neither does the government

    I have experienced more violence and aggression in the last year than ever before and when you try to defend yourself legitimately from violence you dread the consequences as there is always the lingering fear PSD are under instruction to reduce the wage bill.

    They don’t want double crewing because it reduces the amount of available units. So they send single crewed cops into all sorts of dangerous situations and back fill with PCSOs to fool the public that there is more warranted constables. And if an officer was injured or something was cocked up they would lay the blame on that officer because they can. And they do. And they will continue to do so because we have no union snd every day the media drip drip drip negative news reports so the public despise and mistrust the very few left keeping civil society functioning.

  2. For as long as l have been in the job,29 years, double crewing has always been an issue. However the shift always had each other’s back and basically double crewed using our own initiative. The supervision knew this and rarely objected as they didn’t agree with single free policies. It was done but not talked about.

    Go to the mid 2000 and reducing staff levels and larger workload spread the diminishing ranks further.Number crunchers ruled.

    Now all the radio sets have GPRS and the control room knows Where you are so very hard to disguise your location.

    Until the Federation and rank and file unite and demand that this single crewing policy changes nothing will happen.

    Last week we had the spit hood debacle. Really !

    These numpties (SMT) need to get real and address the issues that are important. A double crewed unit will always be able to deal with just about any incident without back up. Single crew and all the area cars end up backing up. Then there is no one left. Can they not work that one out themselves.

    Remember the last buzz word. “We don’t need to work harder, just smarter”.
    I could have punched the c@nt who said that.

    l didn’t realise than l was working like a dumb fooker for so long.

    Well the SMT need to listen to their own bullshit and be smarter.

    Now breathe…….Less than 240 days. Yippee .

  3. I fully agree with Alan, a uniformed sergeant on night duty at my station was stabbed to death by 2 suspects who also disabled his personal radio at the time by cutting through the lead. I was a DC at the same station at the time, the officer’s name was Alan King who was the most mild mannered and polite Sergeant I had ever come across.

    Over the years I have seen many incidents which may have been prevented by officers being double crewed and I feel in this day and age where the levels of violence have increased, it is frankly negligent for forces to send out officers single crewed.

    It is also a false economy as it is more likely that an officer struggling on his own with a prisoner is likely to be injured and have time off sick.

    Police Federation, what the hell are you doing? Home Office Guidance re conduct matters have reduced your responsibilities as you will see from the guidance that you are not to investigate on behalf of your client or become a witness, most officers are typing their own applications for legal representation which; merely need a sign off before going to Leatherhead.

    A Met Fed Rep I spoke with had 15 ongoing fed cases whilst still working full time on a response team, this ultimately resulted in virtually no case preparation for an officer at a Stage 3 attendance meeting who was dismissed with 28 days notice however; the warrant card was taken away. There was not one jot of evidence re the much publicised stance by the MPS on mental health of officers.

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