Headlines: November 4th, 2005

Police forces across the country and the Home Office are heavily criticized in a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for poor service in dealing with the public. Call management was identified as one of the worst performed functions across a wide range of policing activities in England and Wales. The Inspectorate found that handling calls from the public was a low priority, received less funding than other police activities and was badly managed.The UK police service currently receives over 67 million calls for assistance from the public annually. The inspection benchmarked current police performance against wider industry standards and found that it fell short of the standards the public demands and deserves. Performance assessment found that not one force rated an Excellent grading, and 27 of the 43 forces were graded Fair or Poor. Comparison with the commercial sector is damning and the police service is struggling to match rising public expectations.

Police forces lack customer focus and they devote little effort to finding out who their existing and potential customers are or asking them directly what they need or expect of the service offered. Not one UK force has a comprehensive approach to the ‘customer segmentation’. While most forces use one or more public survey methods, they are rarely dedicated to contact management issues. Their timing, format and coverage invariably make it difficult to distinguish comments about initial contact from those relating to more general engagement with the police.

The Home Office is criticized for a failure to think strategically about contact management. The Inspectorate report notes the absence of a national contact management strategy and is critical of the Home Office for not even having a plan to produce one. The report recommends that devising a clear strategic framework should be an immediate priority and that progress against national objectives should be monitored.

The report recognises that improving contact management is very much a cultural issue. Traditionally it has always been viewed as something of a backroom ‘Cinderella’ function. It calls for contact management departments to have the same level of human resource expertise, finance, training and resources as the basic command units.

Information supplied by Horn Ltd. providers of police information.