Detective warns of safety risk to officers

INCREASING the number of single-crewed police cars could reduce the ability of officers to do their jobs, warns the chairman of Sussex Police Federation.

Detective sergeant Paul Sellings said that reducing the number of officers in a patrol car from two to one would cut response times but pose a safety risk for those involved.

He said: “In the first instance, sending single officers to emergency response calls is dangerous for the officers themselves, as you don’t know what you are going to face. We are against the policy.”

He also described it as a “false economy” as officers could end up having to wait for back-up to arrive before dealing with the incident. Two more officers would then need to attend to retrieve the second car, he said: “A job that would have taken two officers in one car now involves four officers in three cars.”

In July the Observer reported that response times for emergency 999 calls had risen by three minutes in the last two years, partly due to cutbacks in staffing and vehicles.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Most forces use single crewing to some extent and have done for many years. Many calls that officers attend will not be dangerous and will only need one officer to deal with them effectively.

“In Sussex we do not have a blanket policy. There will be a mix of both double crewed and single crewed cars out at all times of the day, with more double crewed at night.

“We have specially trained controllers who, when a call comes in, assess what is needed and have the discretion to deploy officers in the most efficient and effective way.

“Local supervisors also have the discretion to decide on the type of resource they deploy which can be changed depending on the need.”