One of the control rooms which handles 999 calls at North Yorkshire Police could be closed as part of cost-cutting measures, it has been confirmed (BBC News). The force said any decision would be based on “maximising efficiency” while continuing “a high-level of service”.
I suppose it depends what you mean by ‘efficiency’ or ‘service’ and, what they mean by ‘maximising’? It may suggest to some that things are good and will get better? Perhaps it’s more sensible to read it as; “We’re trying to do the best we can with limited resources and finances, we know it’s not as good as it should (or could) but it’s the best you’re going to get.”
Delivering his keynote speech to the CityForum policing strategy round table in London this week, the policing minister Nick Herbert suggested that (where appropriate); private firms should take over the running of police custody suites and control rooms to save money…
“Because what matters to the public is the front line. The police officer who is there for them, patrolling the street, responding to a 999 call or investigating a crime.” (Nick Herbert MP)
You can agree or disagree with the politics of the ConDem clan but Mr Herbert is talking a lot of sense (see full transcript of speech). For many years there has been a massive national overspend, much of it unnecessary and largely mismanaged. The cash cow has finally succumbed under the weight of waste and gravy consumption. The forthcoming demise in policing and many other areas of public service may be the direct result of imposed financial limitation but something had to give.
However, we mustn’t assume government austerity measures are the panacea or cure-all potion for our public sector malaise. We’re simply applying a sticking plaster to the wound in an attempt to stem the erstwhile catastrophic flow of blood. The wound may heal in the short-term however, a massive course of antibiotics are also required to treat the almost malignant infection that will still exist. The greater underlying problem, and one which is a far more intrusive ailment in the process is, the short-sighted, self-perpetuating and self-promotional management which is still endemic in the system.
As many skilled, devoted and very able people inthe control rooms face the job centre, police officers will also be contemplating carrying on their (often dangerous) work with the freshly imported telesales clerk at the other end of the radio. Members of the public across the County will be sat on the phone listening to a recorded message; “North Yorkshire Police values your call, we are committed to blah, blah, blah, press 1 for… Press 2 for… Etc.”
And the senior officers? Business as usual I expect; sat in the golf club bar flicking through magazines over a Pimms. “Thinking; shall I book another Caribbean cruise, replace the conservatory or order a new Mercedes, I’d like a red one this time. What the hell, let’s have the lot my bonus is due.” Always assuming they keep the PR spinners safe from redundancy and avoid any allegations of misconduct that is?
MrG note: Any implied reference to any particular individual is purely incidental and an observation made simply to illustrate a point however, should the cap fit you are more than welcome to wear it.