FEATURE: Roads Policing Unit welcomes new welfare support vehicle to assist at serious collisions
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Wiltshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIT) has acquired a new welfare vehicle enabling them to do their job more effectively at the scene of a collision.
The van, which was funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, cost £23,000 and was a former Highways vehicle meaning it was already well adapted to meet the needs of the SCIT, but has since undergone a few additional modifications and is described by the team as the ‘single most effective piece of kit we have’.
The seven-seater vehicle is equipped with a desk and four seats with wi-fi, a sink, microwave, kettle and most importantly, a bathroom at the rear.
With changes in legislation relating to serious and fatal collisions, investigative work at the scene of an incident can now take in excess of 12 hours, so having a vehicle with these facilities and the space to take witness statements, file evidence and reports whilst at the scene of a collision has been welcomed by the team.
Sgt Rich Hatch said: “I’ve been a Roads Policing Officer for 23 years now and this vehicle is an absolutely amazing addition to our fleet.
“It gives us the capability to comfortably and effectively do our job at the scene of a collision. With the changes in rules relating to forensic investigation, there is a requirement to conduct far more extensive investigative work than previously. This means we can often require the closure of a road for around 12 hours.
“The RPU support vehicle has been really well thought out and it gives us a clearly defined rendezvous point with other agencies at the scene, which makes dealing with complex incidents far easier.”
Road closures at the scene of a serious collision can often raise questions from the public, especially with regards to how long a closure is in place for.
Sgt Rich Hatch explained exactly why these closures are required.
“I am well aware that for drivers stuck on the motorway or any road for that matter when a closure is in place, it can be frustrating but there is an exceptional amount of work that is required at the scene of a collision before a closure can be lifted,” he said.
“Firstly, it can take time to deploy the relevant departments to a scene, especially if the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit (FCIU) is required. A multi-agency briefing is then required which involves all agencies at the scene briefing each other on any dangers or hazards they may come into contact with, and then we have both the SCIT team carrying out their investigation work, and the FCIU team laser scanning the scene. This laser scanning device creates a 3D picture of the entire scene which, if your scene is several hundred metres long, can take a long time. Then we have to deal with both casualty and unfortunately sometimes body recovery, which must be done with full consideration of that person’s dignity.
“Add to this the recovery of vehicles which is also a lengthy process, especially if a heavy goods vehicle is involved, and you can quickly see where the time is used up. Finally, we may need to call the council to clear any fluids from the carriageway.
“Unfortunately, it is a lengthy process but it is vital work, as we are trying to piece together a volatile scene and at the same time answer as many questions as possible for the families and others these types of incidents directly effect”.
PCC Philip Wilkinson said: “The Serious Collision Investigation Unit is invaluable to Wiltshire Police as it determines why a collision occurred, brings any offenders to justice and provides answers for families of those who have lost their lives or been affected by a road traffic accident. This new welfare vehicle will enable officers to work to the very best of their ability and provide them with the necessities needed when on the scene of an incident for a prolonged period of time.
“Investment into services to ensure that every officer and staff member has the right tools for the job is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan, and will ultimately enable us to build a police force that is the best of its kind, and delivers a high-quality service that the residents of Wiltshire expect and deserve.”