Solo beat PC attacks force's target policy

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The Independent Online

A police constable who had to patrol a town single-handedly has criticised ministers for failing to deploy enough beat officers in rural areas.

A police constable who had to patrol a town single-handedly has criticised ministers for failing to deploy enough beat officers in rural areas.

PC Christopher Sadler, 43, from Suffolk Constabulary, accused the Government and his own force of placing too much emphasis on meeting performance targets.

On one day, he was the only officer on patrol in Halesworth, which has a population of more than 6,000.

PC Sadler, who has been in the Suffolk force for 19 years, said: "I felt deserted and demoralised. We have about 1,350 police officers in my force - an all-time high. But we seem unable to put a couple of them in every town on a Friday and Saturday night."

PC Sadler, a former Suffolk Police Federation chairman, said that senior officers were switching police manpower from rural areas into towns with relatively higher crime such as nearby Lowestoft so they have an effect on statistics. "While senior managers are trying to satisfy politicians with statistical information on performance indicators, they - and the Government - are failing to satisfy the public," he said. A Suffolk Police spokeswoman said that although PC Sadler was the town's community beat officer, other officers were available to respond to emergencies and carry out mobile patrols.