This afternoon, NEDDC Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Ross Shipman and Deputy Leader Cllr David Hancock visited the Derbyshire Police Operations Centre in Ripley. The visit followed a number of complaints into the police’s handling of 101 calls in recent months.
Both councillors were shown the call handling and dispatch centre and had an abridged version of the training operations staff have recently undertaken.
The police were certainly open enough to admit that they have made mistakes, and they have put processes in place to improve some of their call handling. Their revised procedures should also ensure that where issues are passed to other agencies (e.g. Councils, Social Services or even the Safer Neighbourhood Teams) the person lodging the initial call should be updated.
One area where the force is improving is in its ways of contacting the public. For all emergencies the 999 service is the proper route. Our Councillors were present while a few 999 calls came in and the handling of these is first class. Often their resources don’t allow them to deploy officers straight away – if there are several incidents ongoing they have to prioritise. Often they aren’t helped by other agencies; and they often find themselves mopping up where other agencies fail to provide sufficient care (one of the biggest distractions is looking after people with mental health issues – because their care worker has gone home, or an ambulance or paramedic isn’t available – so they end up waiting at A&E with a patient who needs to be sectioned.
Likewise the stories of people who call 999 because they have the wrong pizza topping, or who dial 999, literally, dozens of times a night are true. these people are wasting important resources and blocking genuine emergencies.
The biggest lesson from 101 calls is just how long each one takes to deal with. The call may be only 10 minutes long, but there’s an additional 20 minutes or so on top of that, recording the details, cross-referencing the details with other intelligence and assessing whether it needs a priority response.
Their advice to the public:
- If a crime is in progress, or there is an immediate threat to person, call 999
- If it is a non-urgent matter (i.e. no immediate threat to person or property) dial 101
- If you are providing intelligence or you are reporting something that has happened several hours or days previously it is quicker to use online communication (email/social media or the police website) as these receive the same priority as 101 calls.
- Most importantly, report everything! What may seem like a trivial, insignificant piece of information to you, may be the missing piece of the jigsaw required to convict a dangerous criminal
That final point is most important in regard to drug dealing. For obvious reasons, it rarely takes place under the police’s noses – so all information is needed to build a strong enough case against those individuals involved.
The police have assured the Liberal Democrats that all reports made to them are treated seriously. If you find that an issue hasn’t been taken seriously please let us know and we will take it up with them. They are working under tight constraints; but they are looking at making themselves more efficient and they are open to feedback.