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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

New scheme helping get officers back on the streets rather than supporting detainees in hospitals is “pragmatic and sensible”

8 September 2021

A new scheme that gets officers back on the streets by using private security staff to support police detainees in hospitals is “pragmatic and sensible”, Devon and Cornwall Police Federation has said.

Police officers are often left waiting for hours at hospitals watching detainees or people who have suffered mental health episodes. Last year Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital successfully deployed the ‘Bed Watch’ scheme, where private security staff carried out this duty instead, and it is now being trialled at Devon and Cornwall’s five major hospitals.

In the past two months, Bed Watch has been requested on 48 occasions, saving a total of 378 police hours. Generally, two officers stay with a detainee at hospital, but on this scheme one of the officers is replaced with an employee of Crown Security, so that officer can return to their core function.

The scheme is one of a series of projects funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner to reduce the impact on frontline policing.

But Andy Berry, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, says that while he welcomes the scheme, policing remains underfunded and under-resourced.

Andy said: “The pressures on policing in Devon and Cornwall this year have been unrelenting due to the massive influx of COVID tourists. So I welcome this scheme, which seems a pragmatic and sensible way of getting cops back on the street.

“It’s worth remembering that, while the number of officers is slowly growing in our force, we are still not close to the numbers we had a decade ago, before the austerity cuts. Schemes such as Bed Watch are beneficial, but they are no substitute for properly funded public services.”

Chief Inspector Rob Mooney, who came up with the idea for Bed Watch, said: "I first ran the pilot in Plymouth last year when I saw an opportunity to work with Crown, who already provide a support service to the NHS on wards and in the community.

"Demand of staff being at hospitals with detainees or with those suffering from mental ill health is a significant commitment for the force, so anything we can do to get officers quickly back to their core duties, whilst still providing a good service, is a real positive."