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North Shropshire Neighbourhood and Farm Watch

Security Advice


a presentation given by the Secretary based in part upon

information provided by Mandy Laight, Assistant Force Contact Manager for West Mercia Police.

There are three main ways of contacting the Police – which route is chosen depends on the urgency, type of message and who you need to contact.

Dial 999. This number should be used to report serious crime in progress such as a serious road accident, anti-social behaviour especially street violence actually taking place or a burglary in progress. It should not be used to pass on routine information or to report minor crime that has already occurred.

Dial 0800 555 111. This is the Crimestoppers telephone number and can be used to provide information about crime and criminal activity anonymously. For example it is a means of passing information to the Police concerning crime that you have witnessed or have suspicions about but without your name being used. It should not be used to report crime about which you expect a Police response directly back to you.

Dial 0300 333 3000.  This number can be used for a variety of purposes and is the one most likely to be used by Co-ordinators and members:

  • To contact or leave a message for a particular Police Officer/CSO. Leaving messages on voicemail, especially if it is urgent, is less reliable as the message may not be received by the Officer for some time if it coincides with days off or annual leave. It is much safer to leave a message for the Local Policing Team who will aim to respond within 24 hours.
  • To speak to the front desk clerk at a particular Police Station.
  • To report less serious crime.
  • To provide information about criminal activity or suspected criminal activity.
  • To seek advice, for example from specialist Officers about home security or advice about how to deal with a particular situation that has arisen.

The West Mercia Force Contact service – call taking on 0300 333 3000.

Calls do not come evenly spread throughout the day but tend to occur in peaks and troughs. To cope with this a sophisticated system is needed. Three call centres have been established to handle this volume of calls; one serves the northern part of the Force area and is based in Shrewsbury; a second serves the southern part of the area and is based in Worcester. The third centre is at Police Headquarters at Hindlip Hall and comes into action at busy times or if one of the other centres has technical problems with the computerised systems.

The call centres employ about 350 people, most of whom are trained civilian staff, consisting of switchboard staff, call takers, onwards communications staff, supervisors and Police Officers including a duty Inspector who evaluate the importance and urgency of calls received. There is an automated call distribution system which aims to route the call geographically to either Shrewsbury or Worcester to reduce waiting times. The system presents calls in order of priority to the next available operator when multiple calls are received simultaneously.

999 calls are routed directly to call takers whilst 0300 333 3000 are presented to the switchboard. The Force pledges to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds and non-emergency calls promptly. Messages and incidents are recorded on to the Command and Control system. Call takers are trained to obtain quality information about the incident, including the correct location, with a focus on both the needs of the Police and the wishes of the calling customer. This allows the calls to be graded on a 1 – 4 scale in terms of the response required:

  • Grade 1 – immediate response required. This is an incident where there is a risk or potential risk to life such as serious crime in progress or a traffic incident that involves serious injury or has the potential to cause dangerous or excessive traffic build up. The duty Police make an initial assessment and the communications staff deploy an appropriate mobile Police response and ensure that there has been liaison with other agencies such as the Ambulance service or Fire Brigade. The call taker should give an indication of when the response is likely to arrive. The aim is to arrive safely and as quickly as possible, generally within 15 minutes in urban areas and 20 minutes in rural areas.
  • Grade 2 – priority response. A Police response is required but it is not an emergency. If the caller is upset or vulnerable, or if the incident relates to a critical PACT priority, the aim is to deploy a Police presence within 60 minutes.
  • Grade 3 – scheduled response. This is where an agreement is made with the caller about the nature and timing of the Police response. The emphasis is on reaching a mutual agreement about the response and is often executed by the Local Policing Team, including CSOs. Appointments to visit the caller are usually within 48 hours
  • Grade 4 – telephone response. This is where the needs of the caller can be adequately met through telephone advice from the Local Policing Team or specialist Officers.

Once the call has been graded, decisions can be made about dispatching Officers or delegating incidents to the Local Policing Team to manage resources effectively and handle the incident.

The Police pledge to keep callers/victims informed of the progress and outcomes of their investigations although it is sometimes not possible to disclose certain types of information that might prejudice further action such as prosecution of suspected offenders. If you are reporting an incident, ensure that you obtain an incident log reference number and agree with the call taker about the nature and timing of the feedback you require. If you have been the victim of crime, you have the right to be kept informed of progress at least every month and for as long as is reasonable.