Dumfriesshire MSP and Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Elaine Murray, and Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council Police, Fire and Rescue Sub Committee, Councillor John Syme have called for immediate action from the Scottish Government in response to the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) on Call Handling.
The major review into call handling by HMICS was published on Tuesday 10th November, and revealed a string of problems in contact centre operations at Police Scotland, including staff feeling under pressure to end calls quickly and the level of local knowledge of call handlers being the primary concerns of Police staff, elected officials and members of the public.
281 individuals in Dumfries & Galloway completed the HMICS issued questionnaire on police call handling – totalling 7% of the overall respondents to the questionnaire despite only making up 3% of the population of Scotland.
A total of 3,826 respondents took part in the questionnaire overall, with 44% of those that have used the 101 service stating that local knowledge would improve non-emergency service.
43% of police officers and police staff who engaged in the questionnaire stated that staffing levels needed to be increased, and 39% stated that local knowledge needed to be developed in order to improve the 101 non-emergency service.
Dumfries Police Control Room at Cornwall Mount was closed last year, with calls now being taken at centralised Control Rooms in Glasgow and Motherwell.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“The high numbers of local people who have engaged in this review is evidence enough that police call handling is just simply not up to scratch in our region. The public must have confidence that when they need the police they will be there and they will keep our communities safe. But this review has only confirmed our fears; that police staff are being pushed to breaking point and that a lack of local knowledge of call handlers is a major concern of the public and police staff alike.”
“Over the last several months, we’ve seen report after report acknowledging the huge failings made in reforming Police Scotland on the Scottish Governments watch, and it’s time they got on with fixing them.”
Cllr John Syme added:
“The increasing concerns of a lack of local knowledge in call handling are deeply worrying, but don’t come as any surprise. Since our local Police Control Room was closed, local people have continued to express their doubts that the current call handling system brought about in the last couple of years doesn’t fit the needs of our region. Their concerns and the concerns of police staff cannot continue to go unaddressed. It’s time for action from the Scottish Government, not more finger pointing and searching for someone else to blame.”