November 15th, 2010

You heard it here first folks

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I reported back in May how the police were suffering the big Airwave ripoff & it’s finally hit the press this week, well the Daily Mail, anyway.

The Mail reports that Dorset Police officers have been told to do all non-essential communications between officers & the control room by text message as talking is becoming prohibitively expensive. The system is nationwide & used by all the emergency services. It provides secure transmission facilities  was trumpeted as being the panacea to the flaky VH & UHF systems used for many years.

The truth was somewhat different to the hype; Airwave has plenty of problems, radio communication still falls out, officers cannot get through or be understood on occasions. The infrastructure is not infallable & radio masts often drop out of the system creating problems where nobody in a particular town whose radio fails to work can talk to the control room.

Airwave managed to get a deal where they are paid by how much the system is used, so the more people use it the more they earn. Figures suggest that a 30 second transmission such as those where an officer is doing a PNC check on a vehicle could cost as much as 80 pence a pop, when you are doing hundreds of thousands of checks a year, you can see how the bills mount up.

Dorset Police are apparently telling officers to text as much as possible to save money because texting on the system is cheaper than speaking. They have confirmed that get charged a fixed price for provision of the service & a set amount of radio traffic with variable charges after they go above their ‘minutes’.

We’re being told that all unnecessary chatter should be cut, all messages should be accurate, brief & clear. I’m surprised we’re allowed to use the radio at all, what with the huge budget cuts we’re all facing.

What with all the problems Airwave has, it won’t be long before we’re not allowed to use it at all  have to go to the roof of HQ & shout to officers, in some respects it would be just as effective as using the radio.

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