News : Bobbies Off the Beat in Tayside to Sit at Call Centre Desks
Dundee, Scotland, Dec 17, 2015 -- Officers are being taken off Tayside’s frontline and stationed in a control room as part Police Scotland’s controversial call-handling changes.
Nearly 50 sergeants and constables are needed when Dundee hosts the area control room for the whole of the north region.
Twelve police officers have already started their training, with a total of 10 sergeants and 36 constables to cease frontline duties eventually.
It also emerged that staff at the Dundee ACR had to use pen and paper because of an internal IT issue – the second in a Police Scotland call centre in two days.
The force said the transfer of officers will not have any negative impact on Dundee policing because the city will not need as many officers as at present.
But North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said it provides evidence of police back-filling, whereby constables can be made to do backroom duties without affecting minimum limits on officer numbers.
"We are talking 36 police constables here,’ said Mr Macdonald. "It is evident they are not carrying out a supervisory role. They are picking up the phones and wasting all that training they have had to deal with public on the street, while police staff with the skills for this job have been made redundant. It’s an absurd situation."
But chief superintendent Alan Spiers said: "This will not have a detrimental impact on the number of officers delivering local policing within the Dundee area. We will, in fact, require fewer police officers than we currently have.
"This work is looking at rebalancing the distribution of officers, so we will be able to return officers currently working in the Aberdeen and Inverness control rooms to frontline duties."
The plans involve closing the control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness and transferring those operations to Dundee. Service centres, which receive non-emergency 101 and 999 calls, will no longer be based locally and all calls will be handled in Bilston Glen, Motherwell and Govan, known as the national virtual service centre.
Campaigners say that will increase the risk of things going wrong because of a lack of local knowledge and introducing an extra layer to the system.
It is feared a tragedy could occur similar to the one on the M9 near Stirling in July, when police took three days to respond to an initial crash report.
Police Scotland Superintendent Roddy Newbigging reassured members of the public after a technical glitch in the Dundee control room, saying all 999 and 101 systems across Scotland were running smoothly.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Willie Rennie said that after two recent IT failures Police Scotland needed to explain "how they will ensure that these life-saving services are properly resilient".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Police Scotland:
The Police Service of Scotland is the primary police service of Scotland. It was formed in 2013 with the merger of all eight territorial police forces in Scotland and the specialist services of the Scottish Police Services Authority, including the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. Although not formally absorbing it, the merger also resulted in the winding down of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
Published: Friday, December 18, 2015