Our latest updates from the world of Force Contact.
Unite the Union are meeting with the Chief Constable on Wednesday 1st March 2023 where we will be raising the concerns of staff with regards to the suggested moves from around the force area into one location namely C3.
At this stage Unite have not started any formal consultation with the force on any moves as we are still awaiting formal documentation to start this process.
Unite the Union are meeting with members of SLT on Wednesday 22nd March so will hopefully be able to update staff after this date.
Unite the Union along with Unison have been in dialogue with Force Contact SLT in respect of the movement of staff to one control centre, namely C3, Park Lane, Aston, Birmingham since the new Chief landed and informed staff of his intentions during his visits to some locations within Force Contacts estates.
At a briefing of the joint trade unions attended on the 22/03/23 it was made clear to us that any information we had received was embargoed and therefore not for circulation. Since that time, we have challenged the way in which the force has decided to implement the changed within FC.
The proposal that was given to the joint trade unions is as follows:
- Relocate Force Contact to a single site
- That the preferred site is C3 in Aston
- Make changes to the shift pattern for Contact Handling
- The introduction of a uniform for Force Contact staff
- Make changes to the structure of the department
The teams within FC in scope are:
- Call Handling – Lloyd House and West Bromwich
- Dispatch – Wednesfield and Willenhall (Coventry)
- Service Improvement Team – Lloyd House
- Command Team
- Mental Health Tac Advisors
- YM1 Inspectors
The case for change is that FC has failed to deliver an effective service to the public over a sustained period of time resulting in significant loss of public confidence. Performance for the calendar year 2022 WMP meet its service levels 62.6% for 999 and 30.3% for 101 resulting in over 1000 101 calls being missed daily. Service is at its worst between 4pm and 9pm each day. Response times for P1 – P3 incidents are also far below service levels.
It is important to note at this time that since numerous police officers have been put into 101/999 call handing and the bank scheme has been introduced into FC the call figures have dramatically improved. This just proves for some considerable time that this area of business has been under staff for considerable time which has attributed to the reduction in the call for service and not because of the hard work of staff that are currently employed within 101/999 call handling.
For some considerable time, the joint Tu’s have been informed by numerous SLT that they know, from the figures, when the busiest times are and for numerous years, we have stated that FC should recruit to the times when we know we are at our busiest, this has always fallen on deaf ears.
The attrition rate of staff within contacting handling has always been a problem, mainly from what we are informed is burn out of staff, as we have said all along to numerous SLT’s, the numbers of staff aren’t right and they need to be increased, but the figures showed that they had the right amount of people, clearly this has not been the case.
Parts of the rationale for change are:
- Increased resources able to answer contacts
- Bringing dispatch and contact handling together as one team to improve situational awareness and our ability to dynamically move resources across WMP to meet peak demands
- Economies of scale with greater resilience
- Consistency of working practices across the whole department
- One location will improve quality and relationships between dispatch and contact handling for the benefit of communities
- One location allows for better communication, briefing, teamwork and visible leadership
- Supervision will be present and available at all times including 24/7 SLT support at a single site
- Changes to the shift pattern will better match resources with demand
- The creation of the Vulnerability Hub will focus on “Right Care, Right Person” principles and modernise our approach to servicing complex calls such as mental health, hate crime and missing people
- The new Force Contact Academy will directly support the recruitment, retention and ongoing training for all Force Contact officers and staff. It will also support our apprenticeships and provide Force Contact staff with professional accreditation and recognition
- A dedicated HR Advisor will be created to support all line managers and staff, recognising the particular challenges to health and wellbeing of officers and staff who work in Force Contact
- Enabling Services co-located at site including Shared Services and IT
But what does this mean for current staff within Force Contact.
- The reduction of 8 Grade 7 posts namely Contact handling, Dispatch & LQT
- The reduction of 1 Grade 6 post namely SIT
- The reduction of 20 Grade 5 posts namely Dispatch, PCO, SIT & SDO
- The reduction of 25.82 Grade 4 posts namely Dispatch, CST & SDO
- The reduction of 1 Grade 3 post namely Contact Handling
There will be an increase in some areas
- 1 Grade 7 post in CST
- 1 Grade 7 post in SIT
- 1 Grade 5 post in Contact Handling
- 1 Grade 5 post in FC Academy
- 66 Grade 4 posts in Contacting Handling (to replace police officers recently posted in)
- 82 Grade 5 posts in SIT
- 9 Grade 5 posts in Vulnerability Hub
- 6 Grade 5 posts in FC Academy
There will be an increase in Police Officer roles as follows:
- Increase of 7 Chief Inspectors - SLT
- Increase of 7 Inspectors – SLT
- Increase of 9 Sergeants – Disptach
- Increase of 5 Sergeants – LQT
- Increase of 1 Sergeant – SIT
- Increase of 15.8 PC’s – Disptach
- Increase of 6 PC’s FC Academy
We have challenged to movement to one site for all these essential functions. It is the view of the joint trade unions that the force is vulnerable having all these resources in one location. We are aware when the force muted this some years ago that risk assessments and other assessments did not recommend this. We still feel that this is still very relevant.
We have challenged the Chief Constable in relation to Dispatchers moving to one location and that as a force we may lose some very experienced staff, due to travelling and he informed us “that he would check with our neighbouring forces to see if they had any jobs available”. Emphasis has been expressed that WMP are an “Employer of Choice” it does not seem that way.
We have also met with the PCC Simon Foster to relay our concerns about one site for these essential services but also the costs involved in this relocation. We have also raised our concerns that the West Midlands household precept has been raised by WMP on the promise to have more police officers on the street, this is clearly not the case with the number of officers being placed into FC and police staff roles being disestablished.
So, what happens next
Now that you have been briefed by the force, we are able to discuss this with our membership and meetings are being arranged via Teams with the dates below and links to the meetings. We need you to look at alternative to their proposals and we will work with you to ensure that your voices are heard.
We are already jointly working on a formal response from the Trade Unions with alternative proposals, which will include challenges around the proposals and rationale the force have provided.
Please be reassured that the Trade Unions don’t support the proposals presented by the force and we will work with yourselves to challenge these proposals.
3rd May 2023 – 1400 – 1530 hrs - Click here to join the meeting
9th May 2023 – 1100 – 1230 hrs - Click here to join the meeting
11th May 2023 – 0900 – 1000 hrs - Click here to join the meeting
11th May 2023 – 1100 – 1200 hrs - Click here to join the meeting
11th May 2023 – 1500 – 1600 hrs - Click here to join the meeting
18th May 2023 – 1200 – 1330 hrs - Click here to join the meeting