Frontline officers are being issued with hand-held metal detectors to help tackle knife crime – thanks to South Wales Police Federation.
The Federation joined forces with Custody Services to buy the metal detecting wands – similar to those used at airports and public venues – for use in each of the Force’s marked police vehicles.
South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne said: “Our members see at first hand the devastating impact that knife crime has on people, their families and communities.
“And the carrying of weapons is a threat to the safety of officers and to custody staff. These mobile detectors have significant benefits for our members and are one element of the Force’s proactive work to detect and deter people from carrying knives and other offensive weapons.
“Hopefully, with the help of this new equipment, we can continue to take dangerous weapons off our streets and make people feel safer in their communities while also helping improve officer safety.”
Steve added: “We understand there’ll always be considerations, namely financial pressures, at play for the implementation of any new piece of equipment and so we were keen to assist.
“In making this donation, no officer Federation subscription monies have been used and the donation was made via the South Wales Police Federation Group Insurance Trust.”
The Federation worked closely with DCI Jason Herbert on this initiative.
DCI Herbert, the operational lead for custody services, said with both his sons being response officers he became increasingly concerned about officer safety following the tragic death of Metropolitan Sergeant Matt Ratana in Croydon custody in September last year and decided more needed to be done to protect frontline teams and visitors to custody.
He explained: “There are limitations to street safety searches and the ability to identify areas of risk without physical contact, particularly in cross gender searches, would be an advantage. Thankfully, injuries from concealed weapons are rare in South Wales Police but the finds are fairly regular and a metal detecting wand felt like the way forward.
“I consulted with the Federation initially explaining my thoughts and rationale, and intention to engage with the frontline teams. Steve Treharne was very supportive and came back with an offer to sponsor an element of the costs if this would expedite the project.
“I spoke with frontline staff at length, and want to thank the Federation and fellow members for the fantastic engagement we had through the Facebook Federation site. We purchased four units from the custody budget as a trial and I ensured it sat within the custody health and wellbeing plan as a priority.
“The trials were successful suggesting officers feel safer as a result and have confidence in supplementing their officer safety training trained search with the use of a wand, particularly in cross gender searches.”
A total of 350 devices will be distributed across the Force by Operational Support Units (OSUs) over the coming weeks. They’re designed as an additional tool for officers and don’t replace the need for existing search techniques and requirements in line with officer and personal safety training.
DCI Herbert and Chief Inspector Mark Simmonds said: “We would like to thank the Federation for its support, both from a health and safety perspective, but also for the financial contribution to the devices.
“Providing equipment to our frontline colleagues to complement effective searching of people on the street for metal weapons helps keep our officers and staff safe in their duties. The benefits will also be seen on arrival into the custody suite and aims to reduce the risk of a detainee having access to a weapon while being booked into custody and being a further risk to the safety of custody staff.”