Features: April 23rd, 2010

Tackling crime successfully depends on efficient back room processes as well as sharp eyed detective work. The article describes how the manual processes for receiving information about crimes and monitoring the action taken were replaced with a system which joined up the processes, kept everyone in the picture and made less demands on the public.

The Nottinghamshire Police control rooms were highly commended at the 2009 CCF European Call Centre Awards for improvements undertaken since April 2007. The only public sector organisation in their category to be shortlisted. Key improvements included the streamlining of the crime recording process through the Crime Wizard module from criminal intelligence IT specialist, ABM. This played an important role in the improvement strategy with regard to reducing response times and the time taken to record crime details.

Acting Inspector Rob Gilchrist, who worked at the forefront of the project, explains: “Prior to April 2007, callers complained that they were unable to get through quickly to report incidents and ultimately service delivery was not meeting customers’ expectations and the organisations requirements. Furthermore, the existing system was a heavy drain on police time and resources. Incident details were first recorded by the Command and Control team. Crime desk officers would then re-key the information into the system before ringing victims back with a crime number.

“Twelve percent of all incidents recorded were crimes that didn’t warrant an initial officer response and therefore weren’t allocated a crime number straight away. For incidents where an officer did attend, crime numbers were given at the time of the visit. The double keying of incident details led to inefficient use of police time both in the call centre and on the front-line. The resulting delays also resulted in frustration for the caller who had to wait for a second call to get a crime number.”

Implementing wizardry

Work on creating a new Customer Service Desk began in April 2007 following publication of the Nottinghamshire Police vision, ‘Policing for You’. This set out the strategic direction for meeting the public’s expectations of the service. Five months later, the ‘5 STAR Service Programme’ was launched. Similar to mystery shoppers in the retail sector, the program assesses the quality of service for all customer-focussed functions in the Force.

Recognising the need to improve customer service, satisfaction and confidence, Nottinghamshire Police contacted ABM, with whom the Force has had a long standing working partnership for over 10 years.

The Demand Management Project was formed to review business processes and recommend changes which would help us to achieve the aims and objectives set out in the Policing for You vision. We drew up in-depth documentation explaining our existing processes and what we wanted to achieve. ABM recommended Crime Wizard, a new module for its Information Management System (IMS), which the Force had implemented six years earlier. Having clearly demonstrated the module’s business benefits in terms of increasing efficiency, reducing bureaucracy and saving time taken to record crime details, ABM was selected for its close match to the Force’s requirements.

ABM’s proposed solution lay in recording as many crime details as possible at the first point of contact. This would bring together divisional crime desk officers and customer service advisors (CSA) in the two control rooms so they could share their experience and knowledge.

“When the customer calls, IMS Crime Wizard’s simple and flexible interface guides customer service staff through the information entry process when recording a crime. Additional functionality allows us to follow the ‘Lean Principles’ approach recommended in Jan Berry’s report ‘Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing’, by creating input processes which are proportionate to individual crimes’ severity,” A/Inspector Gilchrist adds.

Delivering a comprehensive integrated solution

In order to improve the customer experience, it was crucial that Nottinghamshire Police’s existing Command and Control system integrated smoothly with the Crime Wizard. In order to integrate the two systems, ABM worked in close collaboration with specialist Command and Control system company, Fortek.

Mark Snook, project manager at Fortek, explains: “Fortek’s VISION FX system plays an integral role in ensuring the Force has the necessary infrastructure to manage calls, extensive interfaces and integration capabilities designed to support improvements in customer service and operational efficiency. Throughout the implementation cycle, ABM worked with us to deliver a coherent, seamless solution and fix any implementation faults that occurred with each release.

“The new systems have been up and running since April 2009 and now, all non-attend crime recording is fully integrated into the Control Rooms,” continues A/Insp Gilchrist. “Customer service desk staff enter the incident details into the Command and Control system – if the reported incident is a crime, the CSA simply clicks the ‘CRIME’ button once to launch ABM’s Crime Wizard which transfers information already obtained from Command & Control to the crime system without the need to re-key the information. This has resulted in a considerable time saving in recording crime.”

The real ROI – helping to tackle crime

The simple and speedy input made possible through the integrated systems has reduced double keying and offers a seamless transition when moving from an incident to a crime, speeding up handling time for crime calls and providing a more efficient service for victims of crime.

With Crime Wizard guiding staff through the data entry process, call handling time has reduced as has the need for follow up calls as all the necessary details are taken during the first call. Collecting the right information at the first point of contact has also helped to resolve more calls to the satisfaction of the customer. This also means that the force has been able to offer a system which puts the victim in contact with local officers at a time which is convenient for them, supporting the force’s confidence strategy and the Policing Pledge.

Sergeant Rob Parkin, a supervisor in the Southern Control Room, believes the changes made and systems introduced are brilliant. He commented: “Everything is just right. The support, training, professionalism, and enthusiasm are all there and the systems are easy to use. Within 12 month we moved from the bottom quartile in terms of performance to the top quartile for our 999 service level.”

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Ackerley adds, “The project has achieved enormous benefits for the people who use the service provided by Nottinghamshire Police, the systems and processes have created savings for officers and staff and has enabled them to provide a tailored service to the public. The judicious use of technology coupled with outstanding leadership has delivered a step change in the quality of service we provide.”

Nottinghamshire Police have also seen a significant reduction in their open incidents and the average speed of answer for both 999 and non emergency calls.


Customer Satisfaction – +13% improvement – 96.5% (Year to date)

Public Service level –999 – +9% improvement – 93.6% (Year to date)

Public service level – 0300 – 30% improvements – 86.29% (Year to date)

Average speed of answer – 999 – 6 second improvement – 3 seconds (Year to date)

Average speed of answer 0300 – 1 minute improvement – 00:00:12 (Year to date)

Open incidents – +50% improvement

A/Inspector Gilchrist adds: “ABM delivered a product that was fit for purpose, within the agreed time and budget. We’ve seen an overall improvement in performance and continue to be pleased with the working relationship we’ve established. The professionalism of the ABM team impressed us and having a consistent point of contact was extremely beneficial, especially in terms of integrating Crime Wizard with Fortek’s Command and Control system.”

The level of customer service provided by Nottinghamshire Police to our communities has continued to improve throughout the major changes we have made. The delivery of our new processes has been greatly assisted through the implementation and integration of ABM’s Crime Wizard.”

Looking ahead

“We are currently working with ABM on extending our web service portal to allow direct access through the mobile project, so officers will be able to input crimes while out in the field, search all information across IMS and manage their workload and allocations. Over the coming years, Nottinghamshire Police and ABM will continue to work together to introduce new initiatives to further develop our crime management system,” concludes A/Inspector Gilchrist.