April 29th, 2008

Pile ’em high

Posted in The Job - General by 200

When I give out a job on the  radio, I give as much information as I have so that the unit attending is as fully briefed as to what they will be dealing with as possible. I can still remember being on the receiving end of such calls.

I don’t keep secrets. If the information the officer wants is available to me, I’ll pass it, usually without prompting. I’ll often say something along the lines of "that’s all the information we have." (Which doesn’t stop people asking for a description or direction of travel or more information).

Quite often the information is known to the person calling in but the call-taker doesn’t ask for it. I’ll often ring the caller back myself on the grounds of ‘if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself’. I’ll then find out the information which is actually useful to us (such as descriptions of offenders, where they are now, which way they went, details of vehicles involved, current location of the informant, etc, etc et-bloody-cetera).

One of the biggest problems we have in the operations centre is an ‘us & them’ attitude between the controllers & the call-takers. We should be working as a team to provide the best service, both to the people who call & to the officers on the street. Instead we have controllers slagging off call-takers for failing to obtain useful information and call-takers slagging off controllers for making snotty remarks on logs about how useless the call-takers are.

Unfortunately, we seem to be adopting the Walmart Strategy of piling it high & selling it cheap with some of the call-takers. We are getting lots of new employees (there is a reasonably high turnover – I wonder why) so we have lots of inexperienced staff. They are not being trained properly & nobody is interested in improving the situation (except people like me who aren’t allowed to affect policy), so the crap logs they create just keep on coming. This goes on for so long that the main offenders are now training the newer staff. There is no way on this planet that someone who hasn’t really ever been shown how to make a great log & take all the necessary information can train someone else to do it. Within a couple of years we’ll have a workforce where nobody knows how to do their job properly.

One of our serial offenders on crap log creation has just been promoted to supervisor level down the call centre.

We’ve suggested that they ought to get the call-takers to come & sit with the controllers on the radio channels so that they can see what happens when detailed information is left off the log & also why we need what information. They can see, first-hand, the problems caused when correct information isn’t taken at the first opportunity. We’ve also offered to go & sit with them in the call centre to advise & guide while they are taking calls & creating logs.

The problem is that in order to do either of those things you need to release staff from their position. There isn’t enough radio staff to enable anyone to be missing from their desk, so that’s out the window – we don’t have enough staff to fill all the positions as it is. The telephone lines don’t answer themselves & there are stats to be targeted on what percentage of calls are answered within so many seconds.

As long as the chief can report that we’re meeting our call-taking targets, nobody gives a rat’s arse about the quality.


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