Hospital to get special police patrols

By Dave GooderhamSECURITY at a crime-plagued hospital has been stepped up after bosses took the unprecedented step of employing a special constable to patrol the grounds.

By Dave Gooderham

SECURITY at a crime-plagued hospital has been stepped up after bosses took the unprecedented step of employing a special constable to patrol the grounds.

Thousands of pounds of damage has been caused to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, in recent months by vandals ripping out pay machines in the car park.

Now it is hoped the high-visibility patrols will deter similar “opportunistic” crimes and act as a reassuring presence to visitors late at night.

Russell Hartnett, 42, a special constable for five years, will carry out patrols after finishing his shift work at the hospital, where he is training to be a nurse.

“I love being a student nurse and I also have a great passion for what I do as a special outside work. This is a great way of combining both roles and helping the hospital at the same time,” he said.

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“My duties as a special do not affect my ability to study as a student nurse and the two roles I undertake are very different, but complement each other.

“I am hoping that my regular presence at the hospital will make people more comfortable about walking around the site, especially at night, and deter opportunistic crimes such as the targeting of the car park pay machines.”

The hospital has been targeted by thieves who ripped out £4,000 pay machines in the car park and then stole about £100 in cash.

Steve Moore, its facilities director, said: “Russell's interest in carrying out his patrols at the hospital as part of his duties as a special has been warmly welcomed.

“We have had our car park pay machines stolen twice in the last few months and we hope that a visible police presence will deter these types of crimes.

“As a special, Russell has the same powers and training as a qualified police officer, with the added benefit that he knows his way around the hospital site and many of the staff who work here.”

Pc Jon Warby, community police officer for the area of Bury St Edmunds covering the hospital, said: “Any initiative that gives the hospital a greater police presence is very welcome. High-visibility patrols reassure the public.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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