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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  1. the_leander says:

    Can the contracts not be re-negotiated or will it be a case of having to fall back on older generation gear to get around the issues?

    November 16th, 2010 at 11:46

  2. Fee says:

    Totally off-topic, 200, but thought this might interest you …

    This is my local force (and council) and I’m completely astonished that the councillors are taking a common sense view. That’s something I don’t recall them doing before!

    November 16th, 2010 at 13:35

  3. Hogday says:

    I hope there is a reserve budget to allow calls for assistance – assuming of course that Airwave has the coverage. In my old outfit we went from 98% coverage to about 75%. How can that be progress?

    November 16th, 2010 at 15:27

  4. the_leander says:


    It’s progress in the same sense that going from a half dozen Type 42 destroyers down to maybe 3 Type 45 destroyers is – the new ones are new, and shiny and expensive. So they must be better!

    Ignore my new jag, holiday tickets and brand new suit. That’s entirely a coincidence…

    November 16th, 2010 at 15:58

  5. War Machine says:

    Time to break out the Aldis Lamps, then…

    November 16th, 2010 at 16:38

  6. Hogday says:

    @the_Leander: `Wide beamed` perhaps? You’re showing your age there;)

    Yes, of course, the contract that mysteriously results in the C/I in charge of the project taking retirement and then turning up for work at……Airwave….or….. the software company that gets its product installed as the new command and control/crime managment system (that causes the force’s investigations to grind to a halt for a month). Forgot about those chaps.

    November 16th, 2010 at 18:41

  7. Tony F says:

    Airwave was a con from the word go. For a start, it is on the wrong frequency for anything but short range comms. And it goes down hill from there.

    November 16th, 2010 at 19:50

  8. rafanon says:

    Airwaves was obviously bought by the same totally inept twats in the MoD contracts department where the contractor basically quotes a random figure (that’s rediculously high – just for fun) and our lot say “Yeah, ok.”

    November 16th, 2010 at 20:03

  9. Shazbot says:

    A large 3 county non-metropolitan force near London has disabled the telephone function from airwave terminals, provide all officers with a mobile and patrol officers are all Blackberry’d up.
    Tremendously efficient.

    November 16th, 2010 at 22:22

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