News : Police Call Centre Staffing ‘Not Sufficient', Says Senior Police Officer
Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug 27, 2015 -- A senior officer has told a Scottish police watchdog meeting that staffing levels at one of the force's main call centres "were not sufficient".
In a report to the Scottish Police Authority, Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson made the remark about staff numbers at Bilston Glen in Edinburgh.
Concerns had been raised since the control room began handling calls from Fife as well as Edinburgh.
The force plans to cut its control rooms from 11 to four.
The Bilston Glen call centre came under scrutiny in July after a 101 call was mishandled and two people lay undiscovered in a car wreck off the M9.
John Yuill and his partner Lamara Bell died after it took three days for officers to respond to reports of their car leaving the road near Stirling.
Ms Thomson said: "It is apparent that staffing levels were not sufficient at Bilston when the workload from Stirling and Glenrothes was moved across."
The SPA report notes that in the month of July nearly 1,900 hours of overtime were used to maintain service levels.
The report also showed that 27 police staff from the centre were on sick leave in August.
By comparison, 15 staff were off sick at the Glasgow-based call centre.
The Bilston Glen call centre took up to two minutes to answer 999 emergencies and up to seven minutes for more routine calls, according to the report.
One 101 call took nearly 16 minutes to be answered, however Police Scotland attributed this to an "IT glitch" which resulted because the call was "showing to our systems as still ringing but the caller had in fact hung up".
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes said: "Since the control room closures began we have seen increasing reports of high workload pressures and stress in control room workers.
"Shortages of civilian staff have forced police officers to backfill and cover call centre shifts and people have faced extended waits to have their calls answered.
"There is a presumption being made by Police Scotland bosses that the closures will still go ahead.
"Whilst I welcome their acceptance that staffing levels at Bilston Glen 'were not sufficient', they seem to be carrying on regardless with more closures.
"People deserve assurances that the SPA and Police Scotland are willing to learn lessons."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is a public body of the Scottish Government which holds Police Scotland, the national police service, to account.
Published: Friday, August 28, 2015