South Yorkshire Police officers “acting as ambulances”

OFFICERS at South Yorkshire Police are acting as surrogate ambulance crews, the force’s federation chairman has said.

Neil Bowles said he was “inundated with responses” after asking members if they were stepping in for ambulances that were delayed or not turning up.

“Officers are told that ambulance staff are standing by because they have done a risk assessment and want police to go in first. But officers are saying that on some occasions the ambulances simply haven’t turned up,” he said.

“Other officers are having to do extended first aid and some are taking casualties to hospital in their police cars. It is certainly a problem for South Yorkshire Police. It is a waste of police time.

“The first Peelian principle of policing is to save life and limb, officers will always prioritise this, but are the Ambulance service taking advantage?”.

Mr Bowles did, however, say that there was a move from the force to liaise with the local ambulance service to create better operational procedure.

Roads police officers are also being offered extra medical training to assist road casualties with serious chest, head and spine injuries as well as serious bleeds. The course, which is being delivered by the ambulance service, would replace the basic first aid training officers currently have.

Frontline officers across England and Wales have voiced concerns that they are routinely stepping in for ambulances. Neal Alston, chairman of Hertfordshire Police Federation, revealed that officers in his force had been taking patients to hospital a “couple of times a month” and found themselves waiting “inordinate lengths of time” on a daily basis.

Officers in Essex Police say they are stepping in “on a daily basis” to take people to hospital when ambulances fail to arrive. Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation, said “Police officers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are never going to leave someone on the floor, on the street to die. We are going to do the best we possibly can, but something is going to go very, very wrong.”

Steve Williams, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has acknowledged that the need for police officers to respond to emergency ambulance calls is “no longer an isolated one” and said it is a concern at a time when “resources for the police are stretched to near capacity”.