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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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Watch amazing time lapse as new Town Hall comes to life in Crawley

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A time lapse video of the new Town Hall has been released by Crawley Borough Council, condensing 10 months of construction into just 100 seconds.

The video, which can be viewed here, shows the empty site transformed into a striking nine-storey building. Crawley Borough Council will occupy the bottom 3.5 floors and rent out commercial space on the upper floors.

The name of the commercial space will be The Create Building. The available floor space is between 14,000 sq ft and 77,000 sq ft and Crawley-based SHW are marketing this on behalf of the council. For more information visit shw.co.uk/crawley

The landmark building, which is expected to be ready for occupation in February 2022, is part of a wider regeneration scheme at the eastern end of The Boulevard in Crawley town centre.

The scheme also includes 273 flats (of which 109 will be affordable), a new public square, public realm improvements, ground floor commercial space for a restaurant/café and district energy centre. It is a joint development between Crawley Borough Council and Westrock.

The entire redevelopment is transforming a major town centre opportunity site. The new Town Hall will:

  • Secure the council’s finances through the ability to generate new revenue from commercial office tenants whilst achieving significant savings on the council’s current running costs
  • Provide a better, fit-for-purpose building for customers, staff and councillors
  • Contribute to achieving the council’s wider ambitions around affordable housing, post-Covid economic recovery, and tackling climate change.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “We are facing enormous challenges as a town: financial, as we are forced to keep doing more with less; social, as we struggle with a housing crisis decades in the making; and environmental, as we need to move quickly to zero-carbon to avoid climate catastrophe. The redevelopment of the Town Hall site is a vital part of Crawley’s efforts to meet all three challenges.” For more information visit investcrawley.co.uk/town-hall

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