Control Room Week Case Study - Andrea
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Andrea, 48, has worked in the Control Room for five-and-a-half years.
A hairdresser by trade, Andrea first moved to Staffordshire 10 years ago as a police community support officer (PCSO) after working as a health and safety officer for a large supermarket chain.
Since becoming part of the Control Room team she has worked in all three roles – taking calls, dispatching officers and working in digital – speaking with members of the public online.
“It’s completely different to working out there on patch as a PCSO,” Andrea said.
“You are the first point of call for people in distress and so you really get a sense as to what the reality of the situation is for them in that particular moment.”
Andrea prefers to work on the emergency side of the Control Room, dealing with 999 calls that come in to the force every day.
“In the first two hours today I’ve had 17 emergency calls ranging from a lady worried about fraudulent activity in her bank account to people following up on appeals for information we’ve put out, to people calling about drug dealing – every day and every call is never the same.”
One of Andrea’s most memorable moments was when she received a call from an individual who was experiencing domestic abuse.
“She was on the phone to me at the time it was happening, so it was incredibly difficult to hear, but she stayed on the phone to me the whole time and we were able to get officers out to her immediately.
“It was the best feeling to be contacted some time later by officers who asked for my call log to be included in evidence in court to help prosecute the perpetrator – that’s when I knew I’d done a good job and the best I could for that individual.”
Andrea’s role can often be challenging, but for the majority of the time, she says it is not always for the reasons you may expect.
“We do get a lot of people call who are abusive or rude – sometimes it may be due to the pressures of the particular situation they’re in so I do make sure I’ve given everyone a good chance to get across what they want to say – but in other cases it’s just not warranted, and that is frustrating to deal with.
“We also get a lot of calls from people reporting small fires they’ve spotted which they think they should call the police about before alerting the fire service.
“It’s hard because people think we can put them through to the fire service, but we can’t, so we have to tell them to hang up and redial which obviously takes up more time than necessary if the caller had just called the fire service straight away.”
Often, the public have some misconceptions about the work of people in the Control Room, Andrea says.
“We they call us, though we’re asking questions and being quite calm and slow speaking, that is just for us to make sure we get the most accurate information that we need from you at that time.
“Behind the scenes though, as soon as you have given us your name, address, postcode and an idea of what’s happening, a lot is going on, officers are on their way and I’m just staying on the phone with you for as long as you need me to.”