Martlesham: Police top brass warned over dangers of losing Suffolk Constabulary control room

Protest outside meeting Protest outside meeting

Thursday, February 27, 2014
1:32 PM

Strong warnings were voiced at a meeting today over dangers to the public if Suffolk police’s control room moved to Norfolk.

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More than 100 people were in attendance at Martlesham headquarters’ Assembly Hall, including staff who spoke of the devastating impact losing their jobs would have.

A 30-minute segment where the public could give their views left the room in no doubt about the concern being felt by those affected. They included one despatcher who had moved his family to Suffolk six weeks ago to work in the control room.

The section came in the public part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Collaboration Panel meeting, before it went into a private session.

The behind-closed-doors session gave Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and his Norfolk counterpart Stephen Bett the opportunity to hear the recommendations and business for a merged control room based in Wymondham, or elsewhere in Norfolk.

Previously, when the floor was opened up to the public David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, told the panel: “It is an experiment with the safety of the people in Suffolk. I think you should think very, very carefully about going down that route.”

Others who spoke out included members of Unison, which represents many of the workers, and staff from the control room.

They told of the hazards of moving the command and control centre away from Suffolk, to people despatching calls from a location where they were unlikely to have local knowledge.

With many duplicate road names and villages such as Reydon and Raydon in Suffolk, speakers said the accumulated years of experience they had was vital in dealing with emergency calls. The ambulance service control room moving to Hellesdon in Norfolk was held up as an example of the danger of losing local knowledge following various incidents which have occurred.

One of the control room staff who addressed the panel was father-of-two Phil Quickenden.

Mr Quickenden said he began work in the Suffolk Command and Control Centre six weeks ago after relocating from Oxfordshire where he did the same job for Thames Valley Police.

Mr Quickenden asked why he was not told when he applied for the job that a merged control room was being looked at.

After the meeting he said: “It’s potentially devastating for my family. I feel let down. I’m disappointed.

His wife Liz had previously told the panel: “It’s incredibly unjust and incredibly disappointing.”

Mr Passmore, who chaired the meeting, stressed no decisions have been made at this stage and that he would not be agreeing to any proposals that were to the detriment of the people of Suffolk.

15 comments

  • Hi Ginge. Sorry, but having read the papers that are on the Suffolk PCC website, the cost savings on the two proposals show that (because Suffolk doesn't have a back up control room) it is cheaper to move the CCR to Wymondham, but by the same business case it is cheaper to move SSP jobs to Martlesham. IF this comes off, Ipswich and Martlesham could be better off. What we have to do is insist that the only way CCR can go to Norfolk is part of a package where jobs come the other way as well. And even then, only if we can get proper assurances about the quality control for the CCR. The union case about the need for local knowledge is slightly undermined by this member of staff transferred in from Thames Valley just six weeks ago - how much local knowledge does he have? Maybe lots, but on first glance perhaps not the best advocate for them!

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    IpswichSpy

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • This debate should come of no surprise any of the parties involved as it has been an open debate going back a few years as to when and not if such a merger would happen A similar argument was put forward regarding the loss of local knowledge some years ago when the Control Rooms at Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft were merged as one at Martlesham and perhaps with the benefit of hindsight most will agree those fears were unfounded Advancements in technology will I’m sure mitigate some of the concerns – but let’s not get hung up on the benefit of local knowledge – for as with the merger of the local Control Rooms in Suffolk that experience and knowledge of the patch had to grow to where it is now and undoubtedly can do so once again wherever the Control Room is It is sad Suffolk could not be the host for such a facility but again costs and estate capacity will predetermine this With Suffolk and Norfolk collaborating on so many services it does beg the question why there are two separate Chief Constables and their associated staff – is this not also an opportunity to save money by stripping out some of those at the top who but for geographic responsibility actually duplicate each other in terms of strategy and policy?

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    Sad but True

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • It is the collective knowledge that is important, if someone is distressed and can only give us a street name, local knowledge usually means that we can work out what town they are in. Phil would have learnt that knowledge and had the full support of his team to do so. Fire pointed out today about issues they have had, their call takers not knowing where the Orwell Bridge is, this may seem almost trivial but any delays in emergency situations can literally be the difference between someone living or dying. It is best for all police forces to keep their local control rooms, decisions should be made on what provides the best service for the public not what saves money.

    Report this comment

    Tracy Grant

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • How about getting tenders from a call centre in Wales or even India? Running costs would be even cheaper. Surely, that is what this is all about, cutting running costs even if it means a lower quality of service to the public of Suffolk.

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    The original Victor Meldrew

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Local control of policing is paramount to the success of the whole organisation . Moving it out of force would be a disaster for all suffolks residents and especially the people who have worked so hard to make Suffolks control room the success that it is . But then whoever listens to the lower ranks or staff in Public organisations anyway .

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    Poppys Dad

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Don't worry Tim Passmore has said he will only make a decision that is best for the people of Suffolk , I beleave & trust his words, just going now to post my letter to Father Christmas and put a tooth under my pillow for the fairy,

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    pandy

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Your comment regarding Mr Quickenden is rather trite and obviously based on your limited knowledge gained from the media. Phil has great knowledge of Suffolk as his family live there and as a professional ,who has served the Thames Valley for many years, has supplemented that with research. It is criminal to allow someone to take a job knowing he has relocated with a young family and stands to lose his income!

    Report this comment

    Andrea de Boer

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Why do jobs from Suffolk always have to go to other counties. Just for once why are Norfolks Police Control centre not moving to Suffolk instead. It has already happened with the control room for Suffolk Fire Service which went out to another county. Unfortunately I do not trust the word of Mr Passmore who's previous role was as a member of the Tory controlled Suffolk County Council who have for years been intent on putting all the departments they can in the council out to tender to the lowest bidder. Let's hope he doesn't follow his traditional Tory roots.

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    IMP

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Be interesting see what the cost benefits really are when the great switch-around has happened. Are we going to get a better cost-effective service - or just another excuse to cut jobs but expect the remaining staff to take up the slack! Perhaps in a few months time we can have a report in the EADT about absence levels through stress in the new organisation?

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    Dogberry

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • POSTED ON BEHALF OF MR QUICKENDEN 'Whilst I have moved to Suffolk in the last couple of months I have a long standing connection to the county. I have family who have lived in Southwold for almost 30 years and other family living in Halesworth. In the last 8 years I have spent many holidays, Christmas's and visits in Suffolk and have learned the differences between Reydon and Raydon! I love Suffolk, I love my new home and chose to live here because of that. I know some area's better than others, just as many of you do. The article is slightly misleading - I am not a Despatcher - I am a supervisor. I am not in direct contact with the public, nor am I dispatching police officers and it is in these area's that local knowledge is critical. http:www.oxfordmail.co.uknews10609854.Inquiry_after_999_crews_sent_to_wrong_place This campaign is not just about the human cost in terms of jobs and families of those being made redundent. This is about ensure people who live in Suffolk get the service they deserve when they ring 999. If you think about it, try holding your breath for 120 seconds and it seems to last forever - thats how much longer you can expect to wait for an officer when you are in need. It can be the difference between life and death.

    Report this comment

    Albert

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

  • This debate should come of no surprise any of the parties involved as it has been an open debate going back a few years as to when and not if such a merger would happen A similar argument was put forward regarding the loss of local knowledge some years ago when the Control Rooms at Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft were merged as one at Martlesham and perhaps with the benefit of hindsight most will agree those fears were unfounded Advancements in technology will I’m sure mitigate some of the concerns – but let’s not get hung up on the benefit of local knowledge – for as with the merger of the local Control Rooms in Suffolk that experience and knowledge of the patch had to grow to where it is now and undoubtedly can do so once again wherever the Control Room is It is sad Suffolk could not be the host for such a facility but again costs and estate capacity will predetermine this With Suffolk and Norfolk collaborating on so many services it does beg the question why there are two separate Chief Constables and their associated staff – is this not also an opportunity to save money by stripping out some of those at the top who but for geographic responsibility actually duplicate each other in terms of strategy and policy?

    Report this comment

    Sad but True

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Sorry Ipswich Spy and others the jobs possibly coming to Suffolk subject to review and anaylsis, which means not on your knelly. We will loose the 120 jobs then find nothing comming our way as usual. Then Martleshams HQ costs are just too much for the staff left, would it not be cheaper to merge them at Wyndham. Then effectively Suffolk police dissapears. If its that good an idea move all the jobs to Suffolk. But I bet Norfolk Police run like hell when that is suggested. The best thing is we can always vote Mr Passmore out and install a man to undue the damage and move the jobs back. Thats democracy. PS sorry for spelling doing this on the move.

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    The Ginge

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • That's a great way to increase crime in our "safe" county. This government keeps shutting the gate once the horses have fled., what happened to prevention? Another big hit on the ordinary working class who don't have body guards and personal security! I suppose if there is a national threat that security will get tighter...... For MR CAMERON AND CO!!

    Report this comment

    hairdood

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Mr Passmore has never been a member of Suffolk County Council - he was leader of Mid Suffolk District Council and remains a backbencher there. What this newspaper article doesn't report is that hundreds of jobs may be coming the other way, as the much larger Shared Services Partnership will see all ICT, Finance, HR, Legal and other back office roles concentrated at Martlesham. I am also interested to see the campaigners worry about local knowledge, when the one person quoted has only lived here six weeks! So much for necessary local knowledge!

    Report this comment

    IpswichSpy

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • It is the collective knowledge that is important, if someone is distressed and can only give us a street name, local knowledge usually means that we can work out what town they are in. Phil would have learnt that knowledge and had the full support of his team to do so. Fire pointed out today about issues they have had, their call takers not knowing where the Orwell Bridge is, this may seem almost trivial but any delays in emergency situations can literally be the difference between someone living or dying. It is best for all police forces to keep their local control rooms, decisions should be made on what provides the best service for the public not what saves money.

    Report this comment

    Tracy Grant

    Friday, February 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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