Leicestershire Police Federation has launched a new mobile Welfare Van offering support to officers when they are deployed on major incidents.
The ‘Welfare 1’ van provides bathroom and washing facilities and a microwave as well as its own heating and air conditioning to offer officers a place where they can take a well-deserved break away from the pressures of the frontline.
As well as offering tea, coffee and water, the van is also Wi-Fi connected and has a table and chair allowing it to be used as a mobile office.
Leicestershire Police Federation Chairman Dave Stokes says the van has already provided a welcome base for officers when they are dealing with time-consuming and demanding incidents, particularly as depleted officer numbers mean they are having to do more with less.
“Welfare 1 has been deployed on several occasions,” he said, “and the members think it’s a fantastic idea.
“It was recently deployed to a serious incident we dealt with in the city, and all the feedback is that it’s a fantastic asset to what we provide in supporting the officers already.
“If you look at the reduced numbers of officers that we have, we have officers now that are deployed to major incidents for long periods of time.
“It’s not unusual to have police officers working back-to-back shifts and they just need somewhere where they can just have a rest and where they can have a hot and cold drink.”
The force has been supportive of the idea and Dave envisages the van being used to support officers during lengthy crime scene preservations and public order incidents.
It’s also likely to be called into action during the upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump.
“We invested in the van with the support of Leicester Police in terms of both how it was going to be maintained and insurance, because the reality is, it is a police vehicle, carrying police officers,” Dave said.
“As well as operational incidents, it’s also been used for some of the police charity events in support of officers with terminal illnesses, where we’ve had officers doing charity runs.
“And then it’s been deployed as a mobile office, so rather than our officers having to go to the fixed offices which is at Keyham Lane in Leicester, we’re able to go to the members and almost do workshops at other police stations.”
Dave said other Federations were looking into the idea and he’s pleased the van has already offered his members’ vital welfare support.
“Looking after officer welfare means that you’re looking after their motivation,” he said. “It’s the important side of policing, looking after our staff. Both the Federation and local police forces, that’s what we’re pushing for now, the wellbeing of our police officers.”