Solo police patrols should be left to local discretion, says Police Federation

The UK’s police forces should “use discretion” when deciding whether to allow officers to patrol alone and not in pairs, the Police Federation has warned.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has urged police officers to walk alone on the capital’s streets to make them more approachable and so they can get to more locations to increase the visual presence of uniformed officers.

He claimed the public did not understand why officers doubled up when patrolling London, despite having done so for the last 20 years.

A spokesman at the Police Federation, which represents all 141,000 rank-and-file officers, said the organisation was “not averse” to single patrols. However, he told Personnel Today: “There should be a proper risk assessment – there may be parts of London where for safety reasons it makes sense to have more than one officer. Other parts of London might not require that. Discretion is needed.”

The federation would be against single patrol being used across forces nationwide, however. Less busy city centres could mean officers were 20 minutes away from support, so in those situations it would be better to walk in pairs.

“It would be a cause for concern if [single patrol at the Met] was a move towards single patrol across all circumstances in all 43 forces,” said the spokesman. “Our members will be a bit concerned about the safety aspect of it. Quite clearly they feel safer in pairs, particularly on night duty and in particular areas.”

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