The hidden frontline of policing welcomed people from across the county to see their vital work.
Sussex Police’s Force Contact, Command and Control Department (FCCCD) opened their doors to members of the public for the first time to get an insight into the day-to-day operations to ensure we help the people that need it.
The department is responsible for public contact in Sussex, whether by telephone, electronic means or face-to-face in police station reception areas. It is at police headquarters in Lewes that emergency and non-emergency calls are taken and the appropriate police response is determined.
More than 230 people, who applied to be part of the day, were shown the essential work being carried out by the contact handlers and controllers who answer the 70,000 calls received each month.
As well as being shown the room where all the calls are taken visitors got the chance to listen to 101 scenarios and take down the details, act as a controller assigning police officers appropriately, getting an insight into CCTV monitoring and learning the best way to contact police.
Chief Superintendent Jane Derrick said: “Every day in March this year we received more than 1,150 calls to 101 and more than 580 emergency calls to 999 every day and the demand is increasing with on average about two contacts every minute 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This weekend we saw an average of 34 emergency 999 calls an hour and more than 60 calls at hour at its peak.
“That is why it was so important to open our doors for the first time to FCCCD and show them how vital our work is, how hard the contact handlers and controllers work and to show them all the different ways they can contact us, not just via the phone.
“Our guests heard that as soon as we receive a call, our switchboard assess the caller’s need and triage the call. On average it takes a caller four minutes between speaking to someone on the switchboard and speaking to a contact handler on 101. If it is an emergency it will immediately go to our 999 call takers, but if it isn’t you might have to wait.
“Our visitors learnt how important improving public contact is to us and the recent council tax increase will help improve ways for the public to contact us about non-emergency matters, in ways that are convenient to them. An email or online form is treated exactly the same as a 101 call and triaged the same way.
“We get it right thousands of times and we are striving to get better.
“The feedback we’ve had from the open day has been great and very encouraging. I am incredibly proud of the department and the people who work in it. The team worked hard to show the public exactly what they do and they left with a better understanding about how we assess each contact, be that via email or phone call, to make sure we respond appropriately.”
Alongside the FCCCD, the Investigations and Resolution Centre works to provide an opportunity to resolve low risk and non-critical incidents after members of the public make contact.
The centre is made up of experienced police officers and call handlers who support and take demand from the contact handlers and division and look to solve the crime for victims.
Justin Norman, who works as a supervisor in the Investigations and Resolution Centre, said: “Last year we took nearly 28,000 reports and reduced 42,000 deployments on division. We can deal with things slower time here allowing the officers to be where they are needed rather than being office bound or collecting CCTV. We can support investigations by producing evidence for an arrest. It someone needs to be arrested, they will be, investigations come here to be progressed, not just closed.”
An example of the centre’s work include a burglary where a wallet was stolen and the victim was able to see where his card had been used. Investigators in the centre were able to contact the shop where the stolen card was used, get CCTV and were able to identify the suspect.
The visitors during the open day saw an incident through from the first call, through the controller and to the officers out across the county.