August 22nd, 2012

There are no targets

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The public voice of the control room will tell you there are no targets. Calls into the control room are dealt with on merit, to the best of the call-taker’s ability and are resolved at the point of source, if at all possible, by the call-taker resolving the problem. If they can’t, they pass the matter on to someone who can, often in the form of a job which gets sent to the controllers for a police unit to be assigned to deal with it.

Being able to deal with the call when it comes in, from start to finish is good; it satisfies the needs of the caller, and it means less calls come in because the caller has to call back again, and again because their problem isn’t resolved. It also takes time; call-takers can only deal with one call at a time, this means when they are resolving someone’s issues,. they are not dealing with someone else’s.

It might be as simple as finding out a piece of information. Often the call-taker will be able to pass this information straight away, sometimes they have to go and find out. This might involve looking it up or speaking with someone else who knows. While they are doing this they are not answering calls.

If you go for several years in a row without replacing any staff in the control room, there comes a time when you haven’t got enough staff. The result, apart from finding it impossible to get a  summer holiday (bitter, much?) is that people have to wait longer for the phone to be answered, because call-takers are trying to deal with each call to the best of their ability to give the best service possible.

Answering the calls in a longer time is fine, as long as you don’t have targets for answering calls.

What actually happens, when the figures go below the target level is the supervisors get nervous, it might be their butt on the line come the management meeting in the morning when the people who say they prefer quality service to a slavish desire to reach targets, ask why the figures are too low. Once the percentage dips below the desired level, what to do? Go with the quality service maxim and let the figures fall or go for target acquisition and try to rescue the figures.

The answer is easy, people who work in the control room know that the public face is complete bollocks and the figures matter. The only way to retrieve the figures is to get more people to answer lots  more calls but there aren’t any more call-takers. Simples, get the controllers to answer the phones.

But surely if the controllers are answering the telephones, they can’t answer the radios? I’m glad you asked that. Of course, but who gives a fuck. the people that run the control room sure don’t. The executive at their armchair quarterback meetings each morning don’t care, as long as they can tell the Home Office that the ‘non existent’ targets are being met.

Of course, the only way to get controllers to swap over to call-taking is to close a radio channel and get all the officers from one area to share the radio system of another area, thus doubling the workload of the other controllers while having the radio space available to all the officers in two areas. The service to the officers and members of the public they need to deal with drops through the floor.

But at least more calls are being answered within 10 seconds. (regardless that the ensuing dealing of that call might take 3 days).

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One comment

  1. Norn Iron says:

    You definately work in my force. The amount of crap calls we get sent to is directly proportionate to the new monthly target for answering calls. It’s madness. There should be 4x the number of staff in comms.

    August 23rd, 2012 at 11:11

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