POLICE in Bournemouth say the Safe Bus will be hitting the town centre every Saturday night this year to help the town’s vulnerable people and drunken partygoers.

The bus first hit the streets in 2009 when it made six appearances and its presence at Horseshoe Common in the town centre has increased each year.

Now Bournemouth Police, together with Bournemouth Borough Council and South Western Ambulance Service, have secured enough funding for it to be deployed every Saturday night throughout 2012 between 10pm and 3am.

Since it began, 354 vulnerable people have been looked after by a team of 20 volunteers who man the Safe Bus.

With the original bus on its way out, the police have been given a new single decker bus by Yellow Buses and are in the process of refitting it to create a private medical area, seating area and admin area.

Inspector Dean O’Connor, of Bournemouth and Poole Police, said: “The Safe Bus helps people who are drunk, injured or lost.

“Those who have come out, had too much to drink, lost their mobile phone and can’t get home.

“It’s for those who have fallen over and are injured, those who have become a victim of an assault, or those who are just so intoxicated they are unable to look after themselves.”

He added: “The feedback from both the licensed trade and people who have been helped by the Safe Bus has been good.

“It has reduced the number of ambulances required to come into the town centre and it has helped reduce the number of both violent crimes and serious sexual crimes in the town.

“The Safe Bus allows officers to return to patrol much quicker, providing reassurance to visitors and prevents the ambulance service being committed for long periods of time with drunken people as opposed to genuine emergencies.”

Total violent crime rates in Bournemouth town centre has gone down by 9.2 per cent and serious sexual violence has fallen by 37.2 per cent.

This reduction has been assisted by the ongoing Operation Protect yellow triangle campaign reminding people to stay safe.

Insp O’Connor said the Safe Bus has received support from a number of local companies providing food and drink for the volunteers and he is hoping to hear from any businesses keen on offering their financial support or services.

l The Safe Bus has just received a £4,000 donation by the High Sherriff of Dorset Alan Frost following his recent fundraising event in conjunction with LV=Streetwise.