February 21st, 2010

Supervisors – what exactly do they do?

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I sometimes despair of the supervisors in the control room. I often wonder if they actually have a clue about how their staff perform.

What happens on the control room is a 999 call comes in & goes to one of a group of people tasked to answer the phones. They are responsible for taking all the information from the caller, sorting out what’s important what’s irrelevant, condensing it all onto a computer log & sending it over to a controller. The controller’s job is to decide who to send & to provide them with as much information as possible to assist the police units in dealing effectively with whatever the job is.

As a controller you can only present what information is in front of you. This is when you have to rely on the call-taker doing a good job by actually asking the right questions & typing it into the log.

You’d have thought that a suitable period sitting with an experienced call-taker learning the ropes & several months of taking calls for between 8 & 12 hours a day you’d learn what is important what isn’t.

Sadly, this is quite often not the case. There are certain members of staff who, when you see their number on log you instantly know it will be what we in the trade call a ‘crap log’.

A crap log usually fails to contain pretty vital information. Often this includes, but is not limited to, the exact location of the job – in a road that might be 5 miles or more long “London Road” isn’t particularly helpful; details of the offender – it’s amazing how many times basic details like sex, colour or age are missed off when someone is reporting watching someone in the act of a criminal offence or suspicious behaviour, and when they make off, their direction of travel. All details fundamental to trying to catch someone;  vehicle details – ‘offender made off in a vehicle’ isn’t the most helpful of comments, was it an artic, a car or a quad bike?

It all makes my job more difficult than it could be. We often send a little electonic note to the calltaker asking for a description for instance. Quite often you get a reply ‘informant couldn’t give a description’, this is often code for ‘I forgot to ask’ because when you, as a controller, stop what you’re doing to ring the informant back direct, it’s amazine how much detail they can provide, if only they are asked. I often ring people back when I should be concentrating on sorting the job out because one thing in life is a given, no matter how many times you announce on the radio that there is no further information available, some police officer will always call up asking for more information.

So we get the same people sending the same crap logs. We’ve been told not to approach the staff directly about it in case they take it the wrong way so we flag it up for the supervisors, who, judging by the lack of improvement over periods of time, appear to do fuck all.

Worse, the people who are crap at taking logs get promoted, so how the hell the management expect them to spot a crap log much less deal with it is beyond me. We had a new intake of staff into the control room recently, it was down-heartening, if not suprising to see that some of the people training them are the worst offenders.

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