Council told street medics group to stop patrols in centre of Leeds

The group had been patrolling the night spots of Leeds City Centre.
The group had been patrolling the night spots of Leeds City Centre.

A group of first-aiders who patrolled the nightlife hotspots of Leeds was told to cease operating by Leeds City Council, it has been revealed.

North West Street Medics had announced on their Instagram account earlier this month that they had discontinued activities due to issues with funding.

But following a request to the council under the Freedom of Information Act, it has been revealed that the authority had asked the group to “desist from its activities” due to public safety concerns.

After receiving an invite to a meeting to discuss the issues, the North West Street Medics told the authority it would cease its patrols immediately, and was seeking more funding to provide better training and services in the future.

A letter sent from the council to the North West Street Medics on January 11 read: “Leeds City Council; West Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service met this week, due to a number of shared concerns that have been raised regarding your activity in Leeds city centre on weekend nights. On this basis we would like you to meet with us.”

The letter went on to list areas of discussion. These included health and safety, qualifications, training and clinical supervision. Public liability insurance, safeguarding practice and DBS checks were also listed, as well as professional standards, engagement and communications.

The letter concluded: “In the meanwhile, we are requesting that you please desist from your activities in Leeds city centre this weekend.”

The group had been operating in Leeds since summer 2018, and had provided care for partygoers suffering from the effects of alcohol or drug use before they could be treated by NHS staff.

A reply from the North West Street Medics to the council read: “We decided that the patrol we carried out last week would be our final patrol in Leeds city centre and have decided to set up a new brand once we have obtained funding. The funding will allow us to offer new training and hopefully a better service. It will also allow us to come back to you with confidence.

“By stopping our operations we are able to focus on funding, training and admin. The funding will also allow us to develop and come back to yourself with a better developed brand. We also have courses booked through external trainers which will give proof of training as well as current training.

“So you have my promise and word that my teams will not be patrolling Leeds centre until we have arranged for all paperwork etc to be out together and have everything needed for myself to approach you with confidence regarding the work we would like to do.

“I do thank you for inviting me to the meeting however I do ask that we re-arrange the meeting in a few months’ time when everything has being put in place and we can come to you with a better brand for Leeds.”

The group’s social media profiles now appear to have been taken down but, as reported by the YEP last week, a statement that had been posted on the organisation’s Instagram account earlier this month read: “Just so everyone is aware. We have closed our company due to funding issues. We had planned to close just after Christmas, however we stretched our final budget to cover New Year and the first week of January. We no longer have a budget to spend. We thank the public and people we have worked with as well as the WASS Partnership for continued support and co-operation together. Unfortunately everything these days is down to money and we hope the council and other services realise more needs to be done during the evening economy to keep people safe and reduce the use of other services. We hope to obtain funding to set up a new project in the summer.”

In November, the group spoke to the YEP about their plans to buy an old ambulance to convert into a ‘booze bus’ – a street clinic where revellers could be treated for minor injuries to keep them away from A&E departments.

They had set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the project. During the the build-up to Christmas, a YEP reporter also spent a night on patrol with the medics, who spoke about the increase in cocaine and ketamine use in bars and the need to re-educate partygoers on the dangers of heavy drinking.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has attempted to contact North West Street Medics for a comment.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “Our primary concern is the safety of the public, including those volunteering for North West Street Medics.

“Concerns regarding the operational capabilities of this group have been raised and discussed with a range of partners including West Yorkshire Police, Leeds Safeguarding Board, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and other health care professionals.

“Ahead of a planned meeting, we were subsequently informed by representatives of the group that they have now ceased operations. Any request by the group to start operating again in the city would need to ensure and provide assurances that the appropriate and robust training, insurance, governance and operating arrangements are in place, and also demonstrate that professional standards are being met.”