Control room crisis: a window on the future?

North Yorkshire Police
N.Yorks Police

So the 2010 predictions of Mystic Ethel have finally come to fruition and, North Yorkshire Police have actually come clean and admitted their plans to staff and the media; the headquarters located police control room will close

Despite the constant denials by senior management about any ‘done deal’, their intentions to close a control room have been widely known by staff for some time. It would also appear, despite carefully worded platitudes in the press, that management have a stark disregard for how they are actually perceived by their staff. A little more openness and honesty wouldn’t have gone amiss during the whole process, if only to try to endear themselves to an already despondent and untrusting workforce.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, who is overseeing many of the operational changes in the force, has been quoted as saying:-

“From all the in depth analysis of emergency and non-emergency call-handling demand and the critical command functions associated with the control room, we firmly concluded that centralising the control room in York was the most efficient and effective way forward.”

If that is the case, I can only think he must have read reports and information that were unavailable to anyone else? Talk with those who actually work within the control rooms or maintains the current systems and they will tell you, they can’t find any logic or tangible reasoning behind the move. At least not from a technical or process viewpoint.

Mr Madgwick has also said “we are all fully aware of the difficult and painful decisions that have had to be made.” One has to wonder; will the increased remuneration, resulting from his relatively recent elevation to ACPO level, help him swallow the bitter pill of being Maxwell’s Hatchet Man?

MORE than 100 police staff in North Yorkshire have applied for voluntary redundancy – but the shortfall means hundreds more could be forced to leave their jobs… (

I get the distint impression there will actually be a far greater number ‘abandoning ship’ than the management expect, as a result of the current moves at NYP, but that’s another story.

Perhaps the small piece in today’s Grimsby Telegraph (see below) may help with the ‘logic’ so many have been searching for? It could also provide a clue to the genuine raison d’être behind current police management methodology in the region…

‘CRISIS MANAGEMENT’: Having agreed to axe 250 officers, Humberside Police Authority members are now seeking to secure a four-year contract with a private firm… (

Apparently plans are afoot to privatise the Humberside Police media relations and marketing department.  It is also intimated in the article that this may well be a precursor to a wider proposal covering the whole region. The intention is for the force (Humberside) to join “three others in Yorkshire to outsource work on the contract.”

‘Privatisation of police spin doctoring‘ the TaxPayers’ Alliance call it, another brick in the wall of stealth amalgamation I would call it.

The plan includes handing over ‘crisis management’ and campaign planning, as well as developing the use of social networking sites to a contractor. This move is another part of the Policing Yorkshire & The Humber regional collaboration initiative however be assured, it is only the latest of many more to come. If nothing else, it’s likely this latest snippet will have got some arses twitching in the remaining police Corporate Communications Departments across the region, if not it should have done.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against police force amalgamating indeed, I have long advocated the very same (see here). What I am against is the continuous spin and selective truth trotted out by the management to staff, the media and the public who are (supposedly) being served by the police.

The same public who have constantly been instructed by politicians, self-serving ACPO officers and Police Authority members that; “the public don’t want amalgamation” because “they will lose local control.” This is not so and, to borrow the much used (almost worn out) phrase, favoured by that well-known muppet of academia and author of the recent Police Leadership Review; “there is a growing body of evidence to support this.”

The only logic I can find to support the current control room issue in North Yorkshire is; this is a move to pre-empt the eventual move to a regional force, and the subsequent closure of the remaining control room at York. Something that will happen within the next three to five years, watch this space. Trust me, I asked Mystic Ethel and she’s not usually wrong!

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