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Force puts 'needs of public' at heart of call-handling assessment


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Police Scotland is changing 'computer says go' approach to 999 and 101 services.

Call-handling change: Police Scotland is to adopt a new approach

Call-handling change: Police Scotland is to adopt a new approach

Date - 10th June 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

 

A national force has promised its new assessment system for 999 and 101 calls will not be “computer led” as it strives to shake off a history of highlighted failures that ended in tragedy.

Police Scotland is to change the way it handles calls with the “most appropriate and proportionate police response” when contacted by the public replacing a “one size fits all” approach.

Under the new system, information provided by someone calling either number will be used by call handlers to make an enhanced assessment of threat, risk, harm and vulnerability.

Broader response options include officers scheduling appointments at mutually convenient time with the caller or even issues being resolved over the phone.

Specialist training is ongoing for frontline staff and officers in the service centres for the £1.3 million project with an estimated £500,000 is being spent on initial proof of concept.

The new moves follow a report from HM Inspector of Constabulary which recommended improvements to the way risk and vulnerability of callers was assessed.

Independent watchdogs also highlighted failures in a number of cases in which vulnerable people have been found dead despite calls for help.

An inquiry was ordered in the wake of a crash on the M9 in 2015 in which two people died after police call handlers failed to pass on an accident report.

Lamara Bell was discovered critically injured in the crashed car and had been in the vehicle next to her dead partner John Yuill for three days. She died later in hospital.

A subsequent inspector's report highlighted weaknesses in the roll-out of Police Scotland's new call handling system and made 30 recommendations for improvement.

The force says the new approach should improve its ability to despatch officers to the most urgent incidents.

Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins, who has strategic responsibility for Contact, Command and Control said: “Every caller is different and our response should be too.

“The new approach will ensure we can provide better service to the public by taking more information from the caller so that we can make a more robust assessment of risk, threat and harm and vulnerability.

“The new model will also increase our ability to despatch police officers to urgent incidents, which means we can get to the people who need us most, when they need us most.

“Our current response to calls to the 101 and 999 service is based on pre-determined policies, procedures and system grading.

“Effectively it is a ‘computer says go’ approach to how we respond to calls. However, this does not mean it is the right response for every individual, and in some cases we have to send officers when the caller does not want us to do this.

“Rather than having a 'one size fits all’ approach to certain types of calls, under the new approach, service advisers will take into account the needs and circumstances of everyone who contacts us.

“This means that we might deal with the same type of call differently depending on the needs of the caller, after assessing their vulnerability and the risk posed to them.

"For example, we might send officers if an elderly person calls to report that their garden shed has been broken into, but someone who is in a less vulnerable situation may actually request that we set up an appointment at their convenience or that an officer calls them back.

“When you contact Police Scotland, the first thing we will do is make sure you are safe. Our focus is, and always will be, to protect the public and the most vulnerable in our communities. That won’t change.”

The force receives around 2.5 million calls a year, with less than a fifth resulting in a crime being recorded, and increasingly people make contact around matters relating to vulnerability.

When Police Scotland was created in 2013, there were eight service centres and eight control rooms with different sites and systems not speaking to each other.

Now when a call goes into the Police Scotland service centre, those requiring a police response get put through to one of the three area control rooms – in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

The new approach will be introduced in phases, starting with Lanarkshire, and Dumfries and Galloway in summer 2019, prior to a proposed roll out across Scotland.

Future phases could also see the introduction of digital means for members of the public contacting police.

 

 

 

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Sadly it should never be and never should have been assessed in such a way.  We have been letting the public down for years by making assessments of calls whereby some ja=have been delayed or mishandled. It is not only Force Scotland who have been making a mess of call handling.

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