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Crawley Police stuck in traffic en route to emergencies due to lack of ‘blue light’ training

In the first of a series of pieces on local policing we take a look at the price the police have to pay when new officers join the force.

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The next time you see a police car meandering down the road or stuck at traffic lights it could actually be on its way to an emergency.

Picture the scene. You are an officer on duty with a colleague. You have been assigned your vehicle and have just finished a call.

Suddenly you get assigned a priority engagement. Someone is in trouble and needs urgent help from the police. They must attend as quickly as they can BUT neither one has ‘blue light’ training, meaning that they cannot turn on the emergency lights on the vehicle NOR can they use sirens.

In-fact, they have to abide by the traffic laws of all the other vehicles and cannot speed or go through red lights. They will reach their destination just as quickly as anyone else would.

Sound frightening? It is and it is happening right now in Crawley and across the country.

So why is it happening?

It is down to training and how long an officer has been with the force. It is not standard practice to give all officers Blue Light training before they begin life as an officer. That comes after they have started so in-fact many officers who may be on duty could potentially not have the required training to be allowed to turn on the lights and siren and rush to a scene.

The police know this and as such try their best to make sure the right level of officers are available to combat all types of incidents.

It is also about prioritising who gets the training first. As Sussex Police pointed out, specialist officers in teams such as roads policing and tactical firearms are requried to complete the standard response course and so get priority.

But it is also frustrating for officers who are desperate to help someone but are unable to get to a scene as quickly as they would like.

In order for an officer to be able to undertake a course they must first complete a two year probation period. After such time then they become eligible for attending the course.

Of course there is still the question of why they are not paired with an officer who already has the training but this comes down to resources.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said:

“The dynamic nature of policing means we quite often need to respond to many different incident types with appropriately trained officers. As many of our incidents do not require a blue light response, this can sometimes mean that officers who have not completed the standard response course are paired up to make the best use of our available resources.

Officers need to complete their probation, this usually takes two years, to be considered for a standard response course, enabling them to respond to blue light emergencies. Our aim is to enable 85% of all response officers to be able to respond to emergency calls.

Specialist officers in teams such as roads policing, tactical firearms and serious and organised crime, who are required to complete the standard response course, sometimes need to be prioritised. With this in mind, we have recently recruited two new trainer drivers to respond to the increase in recruitment.”

There is no question that Crawley’s police do an incredible job. Having spent a Saturday night shift with them, this reporter saw that it is clear they need far more resources, far more money and far more equipment to be able to continue to do their superb work.

In-fact on the shift I shadowed a desperate call came in from an officer in trouble about 10 miles away and who needed urgent help from her colleagues. The desperation on the faces and the reaction of the officers I was with knowing they could not get to her fast enough was shocking and heartbreaking and something I am still finding hard to forget.

There is also no question that all officers from the newly trained to the senior officers all want to help each and every case so with news that thousands of new officers are on their way it can only help – can’t it?

So next time you see a patrol car without lights driving around, just take a moment to think, they could be trying to get to an emergency and are just as frustrated as you and I would be knowing they cannot go any faster than the car infront of them.

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Southern Water brings in water tankers to support flow of water in Crawley through heat wave

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With the ongoing hot, dry weather and Saturday set to be the hottest on record, residents may notice tankers in the Buchan Hill area near Crawley in Sussex over the weekend.

Southern Water has brought these are in to support keeping taps flowing during these times of, what they are calling ‘unprecedented water demand’, particularly in and around the town of Crawley and Horsham.

A spokesperson for Souther Water said:

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and completely understand that with the sunshine and lack of vacations people wish to enjoy their gardens, paddling pools, hot tubs, water fights, water their gardens and lawns and even wash cars.

However, these non-essential activities risk drawing water away from crucial requirements like hand washing, cleaning, cooking, washing and medical requirements.

Thank you to all in the local community who are being considerate with their water usage. “

For more information you can read their blog post about how to be a savvy water user: https://www.southernwater.co.uk/the-news-room/the-media-centre/2020/july/being-water-savvy-in-the-hot-weather

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