News : M9 Crash Deaths: Police ‘Must Halt Call Centre Closures’
Glasgow, Scotland, Nov 10, 2015 -- A major review of Police Scotland’s call handling following the M9 crash has identified inconsistencies in the way incidents are handled and staff being put under pressure to end calls quickly.
The review was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland following the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell in a crash on the M9 in July.
Police took three days to find the couple’s car after an initial call from a member of the public was not logged.
In a report published today, HMICS makes a total of 30 recommendations for improvement.
The watchdog said improvements were already being made, but it called on the Scottish Police Authority not to approve further stages of the call handling project - which includes the closure of control rooms - until it receives independent assurance that Police Scotland is ready.
HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman said: Mr Penman said: "Making direct contact with the police can be a major step for a member of the public.
"It is essential in maintaining public confidence in policing that all calls are effectively managed and the caller’s experience is positive. While priority calls are answered quickly and result in a prompt response from officers, I found that lower priority calls can be affected by a lack of available resources to attend incidents and weak local management of calls.
"Whilst I have been able to provide some key assurances, I have highlighted a number of weaknesses in Police Scotland’s approach to the roll out of its new national call handling model. This model is a critical element in the delivery of front line policing and a key part of the bringing together of Police Scotland post reform."
He added: "The oversight of this project has been inadequate with key risks and other issues not being identified or highlighted to senior managers. There was an initial focus on meeting deadlines and increased productivity rather than a well-managed project with a focus on customer service, good staff relations and thorough process design."
The watchdog report also found that some staff noted information on scribble pads rather than inputting it directly onto the system.
And the the report noted that in line with Police Scotland’s own staff survey and previous HMICS inspections, the pace and nature of change has affected the morale of both officers and staff working in the C3 environment.
Responding to the report, Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick, of Police Scotland, said: "HMICS has highlighted a number of specific assurances around capacity, capability and processes including staffing levels, training, basic processes, management of high priority calls, risk assessment and information and communications technology which provide confidence to the public about telephone contact with the police.
"Maintaining the 8 previous systems to manage calls was no longer a viable option. Making changes in how we deliver, manage and improve that service for the public is highly complex and the report highlights that. We remain only part of the way through a programme of improvement aimed at delivering a model which will provide continued high levels of service.
"We acknowledge there have been challenges. Today’s report recognises that we have already made progress in addressing these issues to ensure we can further strengthen call handling. We will now implement the recommendations provided by the HMICS as we go through the next steps of our improvement programme.
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: Wednesday, November 11, 2015