Bedfordshire Police to charge for “babysitting” and other non-policing jobs in other counties
Bedfordshire Police will be sending out bills to pay for officers carrying out duties for other local authorities, the PCC has said.
The topic of non-policing tasks having to be carried out by officers was raised by Cllr Neil Bunyan (Central Bedfordshire) during Tuesday’s Police and Crime Panel (6 December).
“Are you making any headway with, how shall I call it, your babysitting problems, where you end up in A&E, you end up with mental health victims which you have to take to A&E to look after and make sure they are safe,” he asked.
“I’m sure other police and crime commissioners have a similar problem but are you yourself making any headway,” he asked.
“No,” commissioner Festus Akinbusoye replied. “But I believe there are alternatives with third parties being utilised in other policing areas.
“And I know that the acting chief constable is working with chief executives to learn from other areas.
“Constantly I’m getting bombarded by residents asking ‘where are the police? Why aren’t we seeing more police officers?’ and I know that literally every single day we’ve got police officers sat in A&E.
“These are officers that could be out there on the streets patrolling our communities and taxpayers are paying for that, and I don’t think that’s acceptable.
“I know that ambulance jobs are being cancelled because a police officer is there on the scene and the police have to transport a patient to hospital – that’s not safe.
“We’re still having children who are reported “missing” from their care settings.
“Well they’re not missing, they just haven’t come home at 10 o’clock on their curfew and the police get told to go out and look for them when the care establishment should be going around looking for their kids,” he said.
The PCC added that if things don’t change he will present a cost statement to the Panel in March detailing the lost policing hours so they can see where policing assets have been deployed.
“Several chief constables are now making the same argument, I believe some of them did make it clear to the home secretary that they are going to start withholding services.
“In other words, [they] just won’t go looking for a missing child or [they’re] not going to go to those jobs,” he said.
“I have made it very clear to our acting chief constable that I don’t want to go to that extent.
“I don’t want our force to be involved in a coroner’s report or in an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation into a loss of life because if only the police had been there [that person would not have died].
“I don’t think that’s a good place or a good position to put Bedfordshire Police.
“Some of the people the police are having to deal with here, they haven’t committed a crime
“So why are the police sat with them in A&E? It just doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
In a statement to Local Democracy Reporting Service, a spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “When demand is at its highest we regret that we must sometimes advise some lower category calls to make their own way to hospital.
“This decision is always based on a clinical assessment and not on whether a police officer is present.”
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter