Progress report on police call handling after M9 crash

Call centre staff

The latest findings from a review of police call handling have been published by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary.

An inquiry was ordered in the wake of a crash on the M9 in 2015 in which two people died after police call handlers failed to pass on an accident report.

Derek Penman reviewed 98 notable incidents between April and November 2016.

About 23% involved handlers selecting the wrong location for the incident.

But the latest report from the independent police watchdog pointed out that the incidents looked at represented a tiny proportion of calls received by Police Scotland.

Last month, a BBC investigation revealed that more than 80 "near misses" had been recorded in police call centres since April.

The Scottish Information Commissioner ordered the disclosure of all the incident reports to BBC Scotland after the force denied a freedom of information request.

Image caption John Yuill and Lamara Bell were found in a car three days after the crash on the M9 was first reported

Mr Penman's report said 97% of 999 calls were being answered within 10 seconds, while calls to the non-emergency 101 number were being answered within 40 seconds.

Lamara Bell and John Yuill died following the crash on the M9 in July 2015.

Ms Bell, who was discovered critically injured in the crashed car, had been in the vehicle next to her dead partner Mr Yuill for three days. She died later in hospital.

A report from Mr Penman in November 2015 highlighted weaknesses in the roll-out of Police Scotland's new call handling system and made 30 recommendations for improvement.

In his latest update, the inspector of constabulary, said 16 of those recommendations had now been fully completed and 12 partially completed, with two remaining open.

He also said plans to close call-handling centres in Aberdeen and Inverness were on track.

Public confidence

A new facility, the National Database Enquiry Unit, is to be established in Inverness to provide information for police inquiries.

Mr Penman said: "It is essential that the public can have confidence in police call handling. HMICS has been working closely with Police Scotland and the SPA since our initial report was published and have been continually assessing the progress made against our recommendations.

"Over half of our original 30 recommendations have been completed with another 12 having been partially completed and only two remaining for further action. This reflects the hard work and commitment of both Police Scotland and the SPA in implementing a new national call-handling model."

The report found that work was still needed to develop "consistent national processes, quality assurance arrangements, a sustainable training model and more detailed information on financial savings".

Mr Penman added: "Staff have remained strongly committed to providing a good service to the public.

"This is despite many still being subject to significant uncertainties about their futures. Communication and engagement have improved and remain a work in progress."

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