Police to shake-up emergency response

A REVOLUTION aimed at changing the way police in Suffolk respond to 999 calls is on the horizon.

A REVOLUTION aimed at changing the way police in Suffolk respond to 999 calls is on the horizon.

The force is looking at structural and technological changes, which it said will improve response times as well as ensure more officers are out on patrol for longer.

As part of these Suffolk Constabulary is looking to slash the number of stations used to brief emergency response officers at the start of their shifts.

Currently they are briefed at 23 bases throughout the county. However, in the near future it is likely just nine stations will be used before the 500-plus officers are sent out on patrol.

Police will also getting personal digital assistants for officers so they can access, and key in, information remotely without having to return to police stations.

Another new piece of technology, an Automatic Vehicle Locator System (AVLS), will enable the control room to see where the nearest police vehicle is when an emergency call comes in.

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Senior staff said the changes mean officers will no longer be restricted to specific districts and it is envisaged response times to incidents should improve. They also stressed there are no plans to close any police stations due to the new working practices.

Suffolk's assistant chief constable Gary Kitching said: "This is about using new technology and new working methods, and still keeping out traditional links with the community. In some areas of the county we get less than one 999 call a day.

"We have not made final decisions where the (response) bases are to be. We are expecting that to happen over the coming week or so.

"We have done this as a result of what people have said is important. I am looking to keep officers out longer rather than coming back into police stations and filling in forms."

Mr Kitching said Suffolk Constabulary has had comprehensive and wide-ranging consultations with the public.

He feels the requirements for high-visibility and accessibility to officers are being met through the local Safer Neighbourhood teams.

The latest moves should address people's desire for a quicker response to 999 calls.

The public feedback also indicated they wanted criminals taken off the streets, which Mr Kitching said is happening through the force's investigations teams.