Police to get second control room
SUFFOLK Constabulary is to have a second control room to help it respond quicker to calls from the public, it emerged today.The additional service will be located away from its Martlesham headquarters, although the exact location has not yet been revealed.
SUFFOLK Constabulary is to have a second control room to help it respond quicker to calls from the public, it emerged today.
The additional service will be located away from its Martlesham headquarters, although the exact location has not yet been revealed.
The new control room is part of a package of improvements designed to overcome fierce criticism of their communications systems.
Extra staff will also be employed and new more efficient computer software will be brought into use.
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Over the past five years the force has had many complaints about the length of time it has taken to deal with non-urgent telephone calls.
Parish and town councils, community groups and individuals all voiced concern - some of them detailing how they waited 20 minutes to speak to an officer while left listening to canned music.
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Others complained about the amount of time it took to respond to phone messages left on the centralised communications system at Martlesham.
In the worst cases, people complained they had waited hours.
Several times police had to issue advice about when to call 999 and which matters should be regarded as non-urgent.
It was apparent some people had been ringing in to report happening incidents - such as vandalism - though they were not life-threatening and so did not call the emergency number.
Officers said the public must use the 999 emergency route if they required a police officer urgently and if felt the immediate attention of the police would stop a crime or trace a criminal.
But officers accepted the system - which was dealing with 6,000 emergency calls and 8,000 ordinary calls a month - needed improving.
Led by a senior officer, a team has spent a year focussing on the problem and looking at a range of solutions.
Suffolk Police Authority member Terry Smith told the Felixstowe policing forum that the authority had taken note of the public's concerns and complaints and a plan of action had now been decided and agreed.
He said this will involve new software, recruiting extra staff to deal with calls, and the setting up of an additional operations room away from the Martlesham HQ site.
"This should provide significant improvements," said Mr Smith.
"The advantage of the new, second operations room will also give the force a greater resilience in cases such as a disaster and would give us an additional base."
It is not yet known when the improvements will take place or where the extra operations room will be.
n What do you think of the Suffolk police phone system - has it improved in the past year? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk