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Surrey Police’s Contact Centre Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Published on: 3 Sep, 2013
Updated on: 3 Sep, 2013

The Surrey Police Contact Centre, which receives both emergency and non-emergency calls from members of the public, has been celebrating 10 years of business.

Surrey Police Contact Centre staff with 10 years' service.

Surrey Police Contact Centre staff with 10 years’ service.

Since opening on August 26, 2003, call operators in the centre, based at Mount Browne near Guildford, have taken nearly 1.5 million 999 calls and in excess of 4.5 million non-emergency calls.

The centre’s call operators are the first point of contact at a time of crisis – they support both the caller and the operational workforce during an incident and their actions affect the deployment of correct emergency service resources to the scene.

Sarah Durston, head of contact for Surrey Police, said: “Contact centre operators are the unseen heroes within policing, who are often overlooked but can resolve calls without the need for deployment. Most contact centre staff are multi-skilled, dealing with 999 calls, non-emergency 101 calls, inputting crime reports, monitoring social media and on-line reporting.

“They deal with a huge variety of often stressful or difficult situations – working as part of a team and supporting each other is paramount. In what can be a very pressurised environment, the call operators work calmly and effectively to reassure the caller whilst gaining vital information which can be relayed to police officers. Their work is a critical factor in ensuring the service’s provides a quick and effective response.

“Call operators face many challenges but a common problem is dealing with non-emergency calls coming through on a 999 call. They professionally point the caller in the right direction, such as the non-emergency 101, the Surrey Police website or other organisations. It is extremely frustrating knowing that a basic enquiry may be blocking the line for a genuine emergency. Callers are reminded to only dial 999 when there is a crime in progress or an immediate threat to life or property.

“Over the years we have seen a change in the way the public contact us. With social media taking a bigger part in communication the contact centre has adapted to meet the public’s needs – as well as responding to calls our call operators also monitor Twitter and receive crime reports online.”

The team celebrated its 10 year anniversary by raising funds for the chief’s chosen charities for 2013 (Princess Alice & Phyllis Tuckwell Hospices). Call centre operators with 10 years’ service or more in the contact centre also attended an award ceremony on Wednesday evening last week where Lynne Owens, Chief Constable of Surrey Police, presented them with a certificate of achievement.

Nicky Timperley, who has worked as a call operator at Surrey Police for 20 years said: “This is a very rewarding career and it’s great to be doing something useful in the public sector.

“Things have moved on a lot over the years and we offer a much more flexible service. As well as social media playing a part, our calls are now centralised to the one location, even though some members of the older generation still think their call is going through to their local police station, and ask to speak to the desk sergeant.

“The core of what we do has not changed, and it still amuses me how people continue turn to us for common sense advice about matters which have nothing whatsoever to do with the police.

“Sadly, offenders seem to be becoming increasingly crafty in their methods of obtaining information and property from victims, so we work hard in encouraging members of the public to be vigilant, and protective of their property.”

The contact centre staff includes 192 operators, 15 supervisors and five duty managers to provide a 24/7 service (a combination of shift working and flexible staffing) every day of the year.

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