Cycling paramedics to disappear in three Yorkshire cities; Essex Police say officers on bikes will be back for key events

Essex Police is to disband its dedicated bike squad in Southend just 18 months after it was set up as part of a sweeping overhaul of its operations designed to save £41 million over the next four years. The news follows the revelation that paramedics on bikes have been withdrawn from three cities in Yorkshire following a review by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Like their paramadeic counterparts in Yorkshire, the advantage of a permanent squad of police officers being deployed on bikes was seen to lie in their ability to quickly respond to situations, without getting held up in traffic.

Roger Watson, vice chairman of Essex Police Federation, told local newspaper The Echo: “They can get through Southend quite quickly when traffic is snarled up, and they can get to scenes quicker. But it’s going to be subject to the cuts.”

The bike squad, or “advanced cycle team” as it is properly termed, was instituted in February 2010 and made 177 arrests in its first year, with officers wearing video cameras to help record evidence. Its operations helped lead to the closure of four cannabis factories.

The officers will now be allocated to other duties, however, Superintendent Jon Dodman of the south eastern division of Essex Police, insisted: “Officers deployed on cycles remain a tactical option, as they always have been."

He added that bike officers would be on duty at key events such as the London 2012 Olympics mountain bike event at Hadleigh Park Farm.

“On a day-to-day basis, senior officers now need to decide the most practical and efficient use of its limited resources, including the deployment of officers in vehicles, on foot and on bicycles,” he added.

Meanwhile, The Yorkshire Post reports that cycling paramedics are to disappear from the streets of Sheffield, Leeds and Hull, with staff being redeployed by Yorkshire Ambulance Service to rapid response vehicles and ambulances.

The service, first launched in York ten years ago and called Lifecycle, will continue to operate for now in that city as well as in Harrogate. It uses mountain bikes adapted to carry £5,000 of medical kit.

Vince Larvin, Assistant Director of A&E Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, told the newspaper: “Our priority is to respond to all emergency calls as quickly as possible and, in view of the growing and changing demand for our 999 service, we are constantly reviewing how we make use of our staff to ensure that our resources are utilised effectively.

“We are currently operating additional rapid response vehicles in the cities instead of the cycle response units to help us meet current demand more closely and ensure our patients receive the best possible care.

“The decision to take these resources out of operation is not a permanent one and shifts in patient demand will see them return as appropriate.”

A spokesman for Unison, the health service, commented that he hoped the suspension of the service would be temporary but said that Yorkshire Ambulance Service should have consulted staff and unions.

“They are not talking to us and members do not know why this is happening. It is causing confusion and we don’t agree with it,” he stated.

We have asked Yorkshire Ambulance Service to outline the specific operational factors behind their decision but are yet to hear back from them.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 6 years ago

Rather weird

I would have expected that:-

a) both Police & Ambulance services could operate fast response units in city locations faster & cheaper by bike

b) any commitment to retain the capability for later use will result in continued training of staff and updating/maintenance of equipment - costing money but currently achieving nothing

All in all an odd pair of decisions to my mind

Tony Farrelly [2927 posts] 6 years ago

Totally agree mad_scot_rider isn't the major plus of putting police and ambulance crews on bikes in urban areas always cited as being that they can get to more places faster than a car. Indeed I stand to be corrected but didn't the Met resort to cops on bikes to monitor and keep up with the fast moving groups of rioters, also on bikes, in London last week?

shaun finnis [34 posts] 6 years ago

I was only talking to a recently introduced cycle ambulance service in Plymouth Devon. The paramedic was singing it's praises and around town what a fantastic way of getting much needed emergency equipment to the patient quickly and through narrow restrictive streets. I think the cycle with a fit rider in inner cities could surely in certain situations save lives. This must be a benefit to both patient and NHS billing? As regards the police cyclists I believe Plymouth trialled it a few years ago but haven't been seen since, when you see a horse mounted officer you don't miss it they stand out like a sore thumb just like the officers round town on cycles in their hi-viz kit more noticeable than a bobby on the beat and I'm sure the petty criminal thinks twice about pinching if they know there could be a chase on with a form of transport that could easily take out a runner! Personally I think car drivers should by law be made to pay a fine for not knowing how to indicate and drive properly and the payments could go towards funding more cycles in the forces. I'm sure my last comment may fuel a debate lol...