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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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Give Crawley back its police, demands towns council leader

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb has called for the Prime Minister to return funding to Crawley’s police after he says new figures show cuts to police budgets are much higher than the new funding recently announced.

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In a press statement Cllr Lamb says that Sussex Police have lost 32.3% of their funding from central government, leaving local policing in a weakened state.

Speaking about the state of policing in Crawley, Cllr Lamb said:

“Following the loss of frontline officers, crime and antisocial behaviour are now the top issues residents raise with me on the doorstep. They are tired of seeing it in our town centre and across Crawley’s neighbourhoods. Only the police have the power to end the decline and only the Government has the funding to give us the officers we need.

“We deserve more from our Prime Minister than empty promises, it’s time he learnt to keep his word and gave Crawley back its police.”

Crawley Labour adds that this news comes on the back of recent revelations that despite 98% of police officers lost from the service in recent years having been cut from the frontline, around 7,000 police recruits will never see frontline duty.

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