Monday, 10 August 2009
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: "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.