Monday, 10 August 2009

PR Procedure


Here in Metland.com, we used to have a control room per division.
It was only two years ago that the Met "upgraded" and got rid of all the local control rooms. Now we have a set of call centres where people, often with no local knowledge and no background to the area they are working on, try and despatch calls and keep a lid on the officers on the ground.
Most importantly, they're the ones that get help to me when I call for it.

As you can imagine, most of us hate the new system and long for the days of the CAD (Computer Aided Despatch) room back, so you could pop in at 0300hours and share a doughnut and a chat.
The advantages were huge - the local CAD room knew each officer, knew who was hard working and who needed a prod, who needed to be referred to the Sergeants and who could deal with what call well. They knew when someone was taking the mick, and also knew when to give an officer space - eg not sending an officer with a recent bereavement to report a sudden death.

They also had local knowledge, and so when a call came out even before any intel checks were done, often the controller would pipe up "Units running to this call, that's Danny Banksies address, be aware that last time we had to get the short shields out as he had a knife." Things that are done through intel checks now, but often too late. And intel checks can never replace the indepth personal knowledge most of our control room staff had.

However, what I miss most is something else completely. Before our transition away from local CAD rooms to our centralised 'Metcall,' our radio channels were not routinely recorded.
Add this to the many varied relationships that sprung up in the team, often between coppers and civvy staff in the control room.

That would mean you could sigh with joy at exchanges like the following near the end of a shift:
BX: "Any unit free to deal with an I grade call, a type 29 at Johnson Square House, male assaulting female now with sounds of disturbance?"
BX21: "Bravo X-ray, show Bravo X-ray two one to your last call."
BX: "Received."
Pause.
BX: "Bravo X-ray two one receiving Bravo X-ray?"
BX21: "Go ahead."
BX: "Steve, if you're home late then you can drive yourself to the bloody pub tonight. Bravo X-ray out."

Domestic harmony on the way to a domestic. Bliss.
Sorely missed in my opinion.

17 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

It's people v systems, again.

Sierra Charlie said...

You couldn't use it in the 125 sub-surface stations though.

blueknight said...

There is no substitute for local knowledge. Our radios were always set on talkthrough, but occasionally when the system broke down, all we heard was Control Room. They could hear us, but we could not hear each other. It felt very lonely and not particularly safe.

Stressed Out Cop said...

But ATNS central dispatch is the biggest success so we are told.

Even the people who work in them know the old system worked better.

There is no control in these - and as an ex controller I'd prefer local dispatch for the reasons you give.

So much money wasted .....

Chapati said...

Its annoying when something is centralised or computerised to 'make it work better' when it inevitably also means it is depersonalised. I think people misjudge the power of personal relationships on the productiveness (and general long term success) of the workforce.

PC Blogs A Lotte said...

Ahhh yes, but just think that around 0300 we can join even MORE divisions together in a cost saving measure so that you can have 2 controllers running 4 divisions instead of 3... a total area of around 600 square miles.. oh great...
Ooops, sorry, that's a bigger area than the entire MetPol area.. But I'm sure you get the idea.

*sigh*

I remember local knowledge... but they moved those officers to another desk now! Daft, plain daft.

Metcountymounty said...

I miss our old CAD staff. I was on an L2 job recently with most of the guys from my team, nearly all of us working together for years. We were at Lambeth for our silly o'clock Met issue garbage when some of the night duty metcall staff based there came up for a brew. The unmistakable shout of "there's my boys!!" from our old CAD room Mum made us all jump up and hug her for ages, much to the bemusement of some of the other people quietly eating their breakfast. There is much to be said for the friendly calming voice of someone you trust implicitly on the other end of the radio. Someone who, as you said Area, knows who is good with what and who can be left alone or who needs a prod every now and then.

It's even better to know that you don't need to ask for more units because they already know what the area you're working in is like, or which street leads to which alley or where people most often bolt to and how many CCTV cameras are available to cover you.

A lot of the current Metcall staff worked in the CAD rooms and also miss it. The main problem with the Police is you can't put a price or a cost on things you prevent, and it's only after the increase - in wasted time or danger - that people start to think that the old way may actually have been much better, though they'll never publicly admit it because they spent a fortune changing it and to put it back would be an admission of failure.

Much better to risk the lives of the public and front line officers than to admit that your Crown or the rest of the scrambled egg on your shoulder is there because you totally fucked up something that worked well, and spent tens of millions doing it.

SC - if you're referring to Airwave, you can't even use that in most surface stations, buildings or vehicles anyway!!

Blue Eyes said...

A little bird told me that operators in the new control rooms aren't allowed to get local knowledge and that they are rotated around between divisions before they have a chance to strike up any rapport with officers. Is that true?

Metcountymounty said...

BE, yes, although they are trialing on one borough having controllers, permanent teams based on specific shifts on permanent divisions. It's been running for a few months and is apparently going to be rolled out soonish to the rest of the divisions. It wouldn't surprise me if the person who thought up this genius trial is getting a promotion out of it, but at least its a step back in the right direction. Just a shame with them being based at the three main bases and not in the nicks we work from we can't simply pop in and have a brew and a chat like we used to be able to.

thoughts running through my head.... said...

unfortunately I'm well used to control room staff who dont monitor your call or dont know where anywhere is or who ask you to spell everything whilst on a footchase etc

Blue Eyes said...

MCM, so the wheel turns and you go back to the system you had before just in plusher offices further away from the action?

Metcountymounty said...

BE, plusher offices for them, along with strict breaks with no consideration to the incidents that are going on, and no decent handover so they know whats going on when they come back, but still gotta be better than what it was like when Metcall first came in.

Bobbi said...

Classic:)

TonyF said...

I think I may have posted this before, recently I had the need to dial 999. I knew where I was, but buggered if I could remember the name of the place. Fortunately, the control room staffer I spoke to was local. Knew exactly where I was. Thank heavens for local knowledge. No injuries, and further accidents prevented.

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