A NEW purpose-built vehicle is due to take to the streets to provide public safety messaging, help and support within Leicester’s city centre.
The CityBus vehicle is the result of work done by Leicester City Council’s community safety and protection team, the police and other partners to create a mobile unit providing outreach work in the city.
It will be used to tackle issues such as street drinking, rough sleeping and begging in the city centre, as well as outreach work ranging from health advice for sex workers, to reassurance and crime reduction advice from the police on issues such as knife crime, drug dealing or burglaries.
Partners offering support for those battling drink or drug addiction, such as No. 5 and Turning Point, will also be able to use the vehicle to promote their services to people.
Funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the CityBus, which has cost around £65,000, is a joint project involving the council and non-profit organisation the Leicester Business Improvement District (BID).
In future, when lockdown restrictions are eased, the vehicle will be used for its original intended purpose at key city centre locations, such as the Clock Tower, to offer people enjoying the city’s nightlife a place to go if they need help, for example if they require medical assistance, have been a victim of crime or simply need to feel safe.
Leicester deputy city mayor and chair of the Safer Leicester Partnership, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “We’ve secured funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to purchase, equip and staff this vehicle to enable it to act as a one-stop point of contact for varying types of outreach work.
“Initially it will be used to help in our work addressing street lifestyle issues, such as rough sleeping, street drinking or begging, and directing people to where help is available.
“Our partners in the police also plan to use it as a base for crime prevention work in neighbourhoods, or offering help and advice to people affected by or concerned about crime.
“The funding and support we’ve had from partners in this scheme means the CityBus can play a valuable role in providing help, support and reassurance to people in the city.”
BID Leicester is involved in funding the vehicle’s future use as part of work to make the city centre safer for visitors when businesses are allowed to reopen.
BID Leicester Director Simon Jenner added: “BID Leicester is delighted to be supporting the CityBus project in making the city centre a safer environment for visitors.
“As our evening and night-time businesses reopen their doors, BID Leicester will be funding a medical professional for the CityBus to help take pressure of NHS services in the city, help businesses assist vulnerable customers and reassure the public that they are safe in our city at night.
“We are committed to investing in our evening and night-time economy to improve and promote Leicester’s diverse offer so we can continue to go from strength to strength.”
Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach said: “Partnership working has been crucial to getting this project off the ground and demonstrates just how much we can achieve by working together and solving issues jointly.
“This new resource will provide vital support to people in the city and the night time economy, amongst other outreach work such as rough sleeping, street drinking or begging, something I have long been working with our partners to address. I’m also pleased to see that the bus’s purpose has been rapidly adapted in recognition of the latest Covid-19 restrictions, ensuring that this resource put to valuable use.”