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Sussex 999 call centre jobs at risk
10:57am Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in News
Dozens of police jobs could be lost under plans to cut call-handling costs in Sussex.
A merger of three Sussex Police call centres would save £1.45 million a year as part of a £50 million programme of cuts. But the police staff union has warned that if the plan goes ahead the public could find themselves waiting longer for help.
The plan was revealed in papers which went before a Sussex Police Authority committee yesterday.
They would affect about 300 people working in “resourcing rooms” at Haywards Heath and Brighton, and at the 999 call-handling centre at Lewes.
Senior officers say centralising the workers in a single base, probably at Lewes, could save £1.45 million a year.
Their report reads: “By bringing all communications department staff together at one location a number of efficiencies can be achieved.
“Such a move presents opportunities to share supervision and management structures, whilst at the same time employing more efficient and effective shift patterns for staff.”
But Andy Stenning, of Unison, said: “If you ring the police you expect your call will be handled and a police officer dispatched to you.
“You may find there are not enough call-handlers to take the calls coming in.
“It will have an impact on response times and call-handling times.”
He warned that it would not be possible to avoid compulsory redundancies if further cuts to staff were made.
But Sussex Police said the “centralised communications centre”, which would not be introduced until the end of next year, would improve the service to the public.
Senior officers hope increased use of the internet and other methods used to contact the force could shorten waiting times.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said the current average waiting time for a 999 call is four seconds, and 58 seconds for a non-emergency call.
He said: “A single site would allow us to make best use of modern technology and more efficient processes and is aimed at providing the community with a high quality service that is fit for the future.
“The plans are at an early stage and we are liaising with staff throughout.
“While there may be a small number of post reductions as a result of the changes this would depend on consultation with staff, unions and staff associations.”