Ask coppers about this and they will say, â€œIt looks unprofessional.â€
Why is this? Everybody, officers and the public, like to buy into the mythology â€“ encouraged by police managers â€“ that we are relentless untiring machines, like Terminators, with no need for rest, food, or a little space of our own. Ex-Commissioner Paul Stephenson, who bullied in his 'single patrol' policy, didn't even believe officers need each other's company.
When we stand in buses we don't sit down like everyone else â€“ no, we tend to loiter in the middle, near the doors â€“ no matter how tired we are.
Since joining the police I have acquired a bad back, poor posture, arthritis and semi-permanent tendinitis in my feet. It isn't my idea of fun to stand in heavy kit for half an hour while the bus driver practices for an approaching weekend at Silverstone.
I have decided to use the seats and, because everybody stares at coppers, I choose seats at the back, but when other passengers spot me they always stop and stare, apparently dumbfounded.
Similarly, most folk seem surprised that coppers need to eat. I can't count the number of times, when I have been buying my lunch in a sandwich shop, that I have heard the astonished comments:
â€œLook at that copper. We don't pay him to eat lunch. Shouldn't he be out catching burglars?â€
Well, inside my uniform is a flesh-and-blood person who needs to eat. I'm not a machine.
I'm not even going to mention the fact that the job can make us work any number of consecutive hours, change our hours willy-nilly with no notice, and call us in on days off: one time I failed to answer my mobile phone during a rest day, a local officer was sent to my door to pass me the order to return to work.
They can literally do with us as they please, but hey...it's always been this way...so that's okay, right?