Review of Police Scotland call handling will see public asked to share their own stories

Written by Alan Robertson on 22 July 2015 in News

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland set out terms of reference for review on call handling following M9 crash tragedy

Members of the public will be asked to share personal experiences of how their calls to Police Scotland have been handled as part of a review ordered by the Scottish Government following the M9 crash tragedy. 

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) has developed an online questionnaire and will be encouraging the public, police officers and staff to share stories on call handling on condition of confidentially.

While individual complaints will not be dealt with by HMICS, the insight will be used to inform their review of all control rooms throughout Scotland.


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It comes as the inspectorate today sets out terms of reference for its review, which the Cabinet Secretary for Justice instigated following the deaths of a couple found in a crashed car three days after the accident was first reported to police.

Given the timeframes involved with the review, Holyrood understands that staff from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for England and Wales with experience of investigating call handling will be drafted in to help with the review.

An interim report, which is expected to be published by the end of next month, will focus on whether processes, systems and procedures around call handling are fit for purpose.

This will assess how calls are dealt with from start to finish, including who deals with calls and the length of time for them to be answered, how they are recorded, as well as the length of time taken to dispatch officers.

A random sample of calls coming into control rooms pre and post the M9 crash tragedy will be listened to and traced through Police Scotland systems, though this will avoid any time period subject to a separate probe being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). 

A final report, which HMICS expect to submit at the end of October, will examine the wider context, such as overall staffing levels, staff experience and training provided, as well as the mix between officers and civilian staff within control rooms across Scotland 

The performance of individual control rooms will be assessed and so too the programme of control room closures, which is scheduled to see them reduced in number from 11 to four.

Focus groups will be carried out with those working in control rooms while staff extending right up to chief officer level within Police Scotland are likely to be interviewed.  

The detail of HMICS’ work came as Scottish Labour tabled a parliamentary motion calling for the Chief Constable Sir Stephen House to resign with “immediate effect”.

“Only when the Chief Constable moves on can the Scottish Government fully investigate the failings in Police Scotland and get a grip on policing across our country,” said Shadow Justice Secretary Hugh Henry.

House, who is expected to leave the force when his contract expires next year, said last week that he would not be resigning in the wake of the M9 crash incident.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland yesterday said: “Our position hasn’t changed.”

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