SECURITY officers are now carrying out high-profile foot patrols on wards at Barnsley Hospital as part of a scheme to prevent violence and aggression towards staff.

The scheme is called Project Dixon  inspired by the 1960s’ television series, Dixon of Dock Green and was prompted by the return to neighbourhood policing.

It will bring security officers, staff and patients together to prevent violence and aggression to staff alongside crime incidents.

The focus will be to stop incidents before they occur and not just responding to calls for assistance.

Lisa Corbridge, the hospital’s security management specialist, worked with the resident uniformed G4S team and manager Luke Etherington to develop a beat patrol network.

Each officer is assigned a hospital clinical block and performs high-profile foot patrols including visits to wards.

Hospital car parks and office areas will also be patrolled, with the focus there being on general vehicle security and ensuring the safety of staff returning to their cars during evenings and at night.

The intention is to rotate officers every three months so staff can get to know those patrolling.

Staff will have opportunity to speak to officers on an individual basis and officers will provide general crime prevention information alongside directly briefing the hospital’s business security unit on more urgent problems.

Each officer is equipped with the latest body video camera, torches, personal attack alarm, mobile phone and state-of-the-art personal radio to ensure their personal safety and to provide video and communications support to hospital staff if required.

Previous crime and staff safety initiatives have contributed to a dramatic fall in crime reports (63 per cent) and incidents of deliberate violence and aggression to staff (30 per cent) over the last year, and it is hoped that Project Dixon will help to continue this.

It’s hoped on occasions that local Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will patrol with the hospital security team.

The PCSOs already regularly attend the hospital restaurant providing advice to staff and visitors.

The hospital is currently in the process of identifying a permanent office for local officers to work from.

Project Dixon should encourage staff to feel safer at work, and for the officers to become part of ward and departmental life.

It will assist in giving the officers a better sense of staff and patient requirements and feelings, and should improve the trust staff have in the resident security team.

Lisa Corbridge said: “Project Dixon is an extension of previous initiatives that have reduced the number of crime and antisocial incidents at the hospital.

“We hope that officers having their own patrol areas and being personally known to staff will provide that further reassurance and continue this very welcome decline in incidents.”

Barnsley Hospital is the only NHS organisation to be accredited by the UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner and this will support the individual patrols by endorsing camera use and the training.

Any video footage obtained will be legal, proportionate and necessary, and camera use will always comply with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.