12 March 2010

A New and Visible Police Presence

The Safer Neighbourhood Team has had some changes - two new members of staff PS Don Shrimpton and PC Adam Elwood have joined the team (replacing PS Tyrone Taylor and PC Greg Poynter). However these changes have also coincided with the introduction of some changes to operations across the teams - new shift patterns, the introduction of single-patrolling and the allocation of members of the team to 'micro-beats'.

What does this mean for us - well in very simple terms each officer has a small patch of Brockley allocated to him/her for regular patrols - in police-language a 'micro-beat' - and this should help them to get to know the area and the people within that area much better. In the past there have been some concerns raised by the Metropolitan Police Federation about the introduction of single-patrolling but these now appear to have been overcome. From the public point of view the benefits of single-patrols are clear - police officers are covering a wider area more quickly their visible and reassuring presence is more widely appreciated. (Despite the increase in police numbers in past years and the safer neighbourhood teams at the last Brockley Assembly the apparent lack of a police presence in the local area was raised by a local business man.) Further it is said that police patrolling in pairs talk to themselves rather than local people. I have some sympathy with this view - based on regularly seeing groups of police officers chatting amongst themselves at railway station with their backs to the crowds that they are presumably supposed to be assisting. The final argument is that people are understood to be less likely to approach in police officers walking along in pairs - members of the public can be made to feel as if they are interupting a private conversation and are less likely to stop and chat as a consequence.

Of course the safety of the police officers should not be compromised by the introduction of single-patrols and policing can be a dangerous job. However, what we are talking is trained police constables and community support officers walking the streets that we walk about every day.These new patrols and beats have every chance of increasing the visibility of police on our streets and also increasing the frequency of conversations that take place between the police and Brockley's residents.

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