Following on from this weekâ€™s tragic events, the pressures on the Metropolitan Police have possibly never been greater since WWII. Â I donâ€™t mean that to sound dramatic, but I happen to believe that itâ€™s true.
Quite rightly, the Met has increased Policing levels in London in order to reassure residents and visitors alike, and in an attempt to deter any further terrorist activity in the aftermath of the events at Westminster.
In the main this has been achieved by use of extended tours of duty often ending at 2 or 3 am. Â Numerous officers are apparently finding themselves dismissed from duty and unable to find public transport to get home. Â This has apparently led to officers sleeping on the floors of their Police Stations so that they will be available for duty the following day.
This is less than desirable for any number of reasons. Â In the last 12 hours I have seen appeals circulating on Twitter and Facebook seeking reasonably priced (or free) hotel rooms for officers to get their heads down for a few hours. Â To be fair, I donâ€™t know how successful those appeals have been.
Apart from accommodation, those hundreds or thousands of extra officers drafted in to Central London need feeding. Â There was a time when the Met was RESILIENT, Self-Sufficient. Â It had an enormous feeding centre at Buckingham Gate, capable of feeding officers 24/7/365. Â SOLD OFF by the (previous) Mayor of London.
Accommodation? Â The Central London Section Houses may just possibly have had some empty rooms, or a room large enough to take some camp beds. Â SOLD OFF.
I have no idea what steps the Met hierarchy are taking to secure feeding and accommodation for their fine troops, but I suspect the answer is â€œnot a lotâ€. Â I have seen at least one well onown name suggesting Westminster Hall as a suitable location. Â Yes, it would be a magnificent gesture by Parliament to allow its use, but in reality that venue is not available 24/7/365, it has a life of its own.Â
I know events such as these, fortunately, donâ€™t happen every day or week, but the Met has lost its legendary resilience, instead officers (or people acting for them) going cap in hand looking for a cheap bed for the night. Â Is that really what we want for our chaps and chapesses?
Iâ€™m not naive, I know the clock canâ€™t be magically turned back, but surely the events of the last few days have tragically highlighted the folly behind some of the savage cuts? Â There has to be some wriggle room to sensibly restore some of the worst excesses of the cuts and go some way towards restoring the resilience and operational self-sufficiency, not only of the Met, but all the Police Forces.
Or are the chickens here to stay?