Times have changed since beat coppers could rely on cadging a brew from the cook in the larger houses, shelter from heavy rain in quiet spots out of the sergeant's eye or use a friendly shopkeeper's WC. Now, where they rarely exist, they are bussed out from borough HQ, walk about in hostile territory in pairs for a couple of hours, and are bussed back again.
But if we want to see the return of beat coppers who spend their entire shift in our neighbourhood, we've got to make proper provision for them. A start-of-shift briefing at HQ, the whole shift out on the beat, and back to HQ at the end of shift requires something like the Welfare Units we use in the construction industry for small isolated sites; call it the Plodpod.
These could be permanently sited out in the neighbourhoods, plumbed in for water and waste, with power connected and a land-line connected and facilities for accessing the PNC as well as charging communication devices. A small store could hold barrier tapes and signs / cones for local incidents. Serving a couple of single-officer beats each like the centre of a figure 8 these could form a series of interlinking nodes. And they'd be cheap - a lot less than £20k each in made in volume. Oh, and they're very tough - tough enough for a plod in trouble to lock himself inside until assistance arrived.
I can't imagine why this hasn't been trialled already. Oh yes. The Federation.