On Saturday, August 27th, Janice Turner wrote in The Times of despair as burglary and car theft are all but ignored by local forces.
The day before I had come across four police officers, talking amongst themselves outside a service station in west London. My attention had been drawn to them by the presence of some eight police cars parked there. There was no sign of any emergency or anything that might have warranted a police presence. There were other small groups of officers talking quietly among themselves and clutching plastic cups of coffee.
I stopped by one group and explained that I did not want to be rude but I wanted to ask a question. One officer caught my eye with a grin and told me that I was not allowed to be rude to them, but explained that I could ask a question. I pointed out that I could not remember seeing small groups of police officers standing quietly together since the Appleby horse fairs in Westmoreland in about 1990 where street fighting would continue until there was no one left able to fight. What was happening here?
His answer was simple; in order to save money the Met has closed its staff canteens and in order to relax with colleagues, or perhaps to exchange information or to plan operations, officers had to find somewhere else to meet. I mentioned community policing and was told how difficult it now was for officers to get to know a patch and its villains and sources of information.
Four agreeable, approachable officers, standing near the petrol pumps amongst the coming and going of motorists filling their cars, on a sunny Friday morning. Will they be expected to gather there still when winter storms begin?