A police force has come under fire after it spent £42,000 on three garden-style ‘relaxation pods’ so officers can receive ‘inspirational’ training talks.
South Wales Police have installed the pods at the force’s base in Bridgend, with South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said to be ‘insistent’ on their purchase.
Costing £14,000 each, the ‘relaxation pods’ will be used by officers undergoing courses at a new training centre.
Costing £14,000 each, the ‘relaxation pods’ will be used by officers undergoing courses at a new training centre
The pods were criticised on social media with one message, posted on a Facebook site for retired officers, reading: ‘It appears that South Wales Police have purchased a number of these ‘relaxation pods’ for staff at HQ. They are £14,000 each.
‘Wonder whose bright idea this was, and yet front line complain of a lack of equipment.
‘There are three of them and Mr Alun Michael was insistent on them being purchased.’
Responding, Mr Michael hit back and said he wasn’t aware of any criticism of the pods.
He also insisted that the pods were a ‘relatively cheap’ option.
He told WalesOnline: ‘It doesn’t surprise me. There are always people who will complain about anything new. And they provide value for money.
‘The meeting pods are part of a police learning centre development at police headquarters which is a major investment in the training of new and existing police officers and staff.
‘Compared to providing dedicated meeting spaces within the main building at a cost of £4,135 per square metre, the pods at a cost of £14,000 provide a relatively cheap and simple option which enable small group project work to be developed and maintained.
‘Recruiting additional police officers as well as replacing those who are due to retire means that South Wales Police has to recruit and train around 1,000 new officers and additional PCSOs [Police Community Support Officers] over the next three years.
South Wales Police have installed the pods at the force’s base in Bridgend
‘The pods will provide necessary working spaces away from the main learning areas which will allow individual and collective learning which is essential to deliver the degree level training to produce a well-educated flexible and responsive workforce of officers and staff who are able to address creatively the issues that matter to the public we all serve.
‘Training has been modernised beyond all recognition from years gone by when it was a case of 30 people sitting in a classroom listening to a lecturer. Research shows that providing separate learning areas enhances academic performances so these new facilities will enable us to deliver that high quality training which the public would expect us to provide for our future police officers.’
Mr Michael added: ‘Of course there are meeting rooms in the headquarters that could be used, but the pods provide a much more suitable learning environment than we’d get by using existing facilities or by putting up a conventional new building at much greater expense.’