STAFF at St George’s Hospital in Tooting are being asked to become Special Constables and patrol the hospital, acting as a powerful deterrent to crime and disorder.

As part of the Metropolitan Police Force’s HospitalWatch scheme, staff would patrol the hospital site with experienced officers once a fortnight, training to a high standard and ultimately being given the same powers as regular officers.

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, would allow the staff involved paid time off for their training and patrol duties.

As part of their training, hospital staff will be taught leadership skills and the techniques to deal with the difficult and potentially confrontational situations that they might encounter.

Trust Chief Executive Peter Homa explains:

HospitalWatch is a great idea and we at St George’s are really please to get involved. We want to be able to reassure patients, visitors and staff that that St George’s is a safe and secure environment in which to work, visit or be cared for.

“The condition of the environment is a key factor for patients, staff and visitors. It is not just about cleaning or upkeep – the ‘feel’ of a hospital also depends on the extent to which people feel safe within it.

“By training our own staff, not only can we improve safety and security at St George’s, we can also help them with important skills and training for their personal development. I suspect that many of them will be keen to volunteer.

“By doing so they will be making a serious contribution not just to their community, but also to their workplace and to the local NHS.”

Chief Supt. Joe Royle, Commander of Wandsworth Borough Police, said:

“Working in partnership with local organisations is always a positive step and having an extra security presence in the hospital will offer additional support to deal with situations as they arise.

“Being a special constable allows people the opportunity to see what it’s really like to be an officer, and I encourage staff at the hospital to come and learn more about the role.”

Because of the time taken to train Special Constables, the aim is to have the first patrols around St George’s by September.

Members of staff wishing to take part should be at least 18 and a half years old, of good character and health, and be reasonably fit. Participants in the scheme will receive free travel on London’s tubes, buses and the DLR.

St George’s staff who would like to get involved and see if they have what it takes should call 0845 727 2212 quoting 3419 HospitalWatch.