‘Worrying’ raft of errors in police call handling revealed

The nvestigation highlights several near misses made by Police Scotland. Picture: Julie Bull

The nvestigation highlights several near misses made by Police Scotland. Picture: Julie Bull

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A RAFT of errors in police call handling have been revealed by a new investigation.

Since April, there have been 82 “notable incidents” including so-called near misses in Police Scotland call centres. The errors were made in the way they handled 999 and 101 calls for domestic abuse, road accidents and vulnerable children and adults.

It’s vital we get it right and learn from issues where management intervention is needed

Johnny Gwynne

Notable incidents are defined as those where the effectiveness is likely to have a “significant impact” on the reputation of Police Scotland or partners, and where lessons could be learnt from the way it was dealt with.

Police said notable incidents accounted for 0.004 per cent of calls received since April, the equivalent of one in every 22,500 calls.

A review of police call handling was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland in the wake of the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill on the M9 in 2015. Ms Bell, 25, lay injured for 72 hours after an accident was reported to police but not followed up, and later died in hospital. Her partner Mr Yuill, 28, died in the crash. One of the recommendations in the HMICS report said police should “promote an improvement culture where staff are encouraged to report adverse incidents or ‘near misses’”.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne, crime and operational support, said: “It’s vitally important we get it right and learn from issues where management intervention is needed.

“Since the process began in April, there have been 2.2 million calls from the public. The process for capturing information was introduced earlier this year following the assurance review into call handling and as the result of specific recommendations.

“The system was implemented to ensure the service continuously improves how we work and recognises the importance of providing additional training or implementing changes to processes to make our service better.”

Commenting to the results of the files obtained by the BBC, Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “It only takes one of these near misses to fully slip through the net for another preventable tragedy in Scotland to happen. These findings are deeply worrying.

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross said: “These figures show there are still significant problems and more communities are worried about the further centralisation planned.

“This should serve as a reminder to the Scottish Government that it can’t centralise these vital centres which need to be properly resourced and expect the same level of service. Public trust in the 101 number is low, and revelations like this will only damage that trust further.”

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said: “Government ministers have given the brush off to anyone who raises concerns. This new investigation shows people are right to be concerned.