Highlands & Islands

Police Scotland preparing for call handling centre closures

Police call centre
Image caption Staffing levels at Police Scotland call centres increased throughout 2015

Police Scotland will be ready to begin a process of changing its system for handling calls from June this year.

Ch Supt Alan Spiers said call handling would move from its control room in Dundee to its national service centre in central Scotland in that month.

The processes to close control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness would take place from August to October, he said.

Highland Council has raised concerns about the loss of local knowledge once the Inverness service shuts.

Council leader Margaret Davidson said the local authority "was convinced that it was safer" that calls from within Highland, a region about the same size of Belgium, were handled locally.

Ch Supt Spiers told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that Police Scotland acknowledged that were concerns about the restructuring.

But he said the current set-up of call handling was not "practical or sustainable" for a national force, and its change programme would be carried out with due regard to proper "governance, measures and independent assurances".

'Go further'

Control rooms in Inverness and Aberdeen were originally scheduled for closure in 2015.

However, that original closure plan was halted after an HM Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) investigation began into a crash on the M9 in July which was not followed up by police for three days.

John Yuill and Lamara Bell died after the crash near Stirling.

In November, weaknesses in Police Scotland's roll-out of its new national call-handling system were highlighted in an HMIC report.

Derek Penman said the oversight of the project was inadequate and made 30 recommendations.

Ch Supt Spiers said the force was working through through those recommendations and would have this work completed by June.

He said: "They are at different stages of completion. We also said we would go much further than what the recommendations have said.

"We have also stated the remaining phases of our reform programme would only proceed when the police authority and HMIC were completely assured that staff, systems and procedures and processes were in place."

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