Archive for July 7th, 2010

July 7th, 2010

Can someone answer that phone!?

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

999_callIt’s nice to see the new government doing away with all the statistic-collecting bullshit. Their promises of an end to the target-culture of the last few years has been music to a lot of  ears round where I work.

This has not reached the ears of those who run the police communications where we are still measured on an hourly or even minutely basis (that’s minute as in 60 seconds not minute as in very small). 999 must be answered within 3o seconds ideally within 10. In order to meet this target they must ensure there are sufficient staff available to answer the calls.

The communications function within the force are split into two; the people who take the calls & create the logs and the people who despatch officers & control the jobs.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the two. The busier the call-takers are, the busier the radio operators are since the more calls that are taken result in more jobs being created that have to be dealt with. Thus if no calls are coming in the call-takers are not so busy & thus the radio operators have less jobs to run.

When the call-handlers can’t cope with all the calls that come in – usually because the people who run the department are trying to cut back, cost-save & don’t employ enough people, the 999 stats plummet, the people who sit on their arses looking at figures don’t like it. They have meetings every morning to discuss the figures. If the targets aren’t met emails are sent.

Someone came up with an ingenius plan. Through some telephony software tweaks they can instantly increasy the amount of people available to answer calls by making the radio operators take the calls too. Except when you’re taking a 999 call, you can’t work the radio or do anything that is required of a radio operator, so they can only do this if the radio channel is double-crewed.

It’s like two armies facing each other, one is bigger than the other. The bigger army is attacking the right flank, the smaller army takes half the people off the left flank to bolster the right flank, but the left flank is still being attacked, it’s just that the general thinks the right flank is more important, except, if both flanks aren’t protected the whole bloody aremy will get shafted.

So this week I have been mainly single-crewed. When I get really busy, I need some help, this means asking one of the double crewed channels to lend me one of them for a while, expet the double crewed channels are using the second operator to take 999 calls, so I don’t actually get any help.

Remember when I said that when the 999 calls are busy this means the radio operators & front-line troops are busy too, one follows the other?

The people who run the communications in our force don’t appear to understand this fact. I think it’s because the work I do doesn’t have to appear in an Exel spreadsheet. So the calls are coming in, I’m rushed off my feet as a result, so they take away and chance of me getting any assistance, the service level to my officers & members of the public go down because of my inability to keep up with all the work I’m expected to do, in order to take more 999 calls & create even more jobs that I can;t cope with – genius.

Personally, I think they should change the targets. People don’t care whether their call is answered in 5 seconds or 60 seconds, what they want is a police officer on their doorstep within a reasonable time.  I think we should measure the amount of jobs where I have to call a member of the public (or’victim’) back to apologise that we haven’t got anyone free. Every hour I can send an officer is a minus point on the chart.

I hope their graphs can go that low.