Police top brass warned over dangers of losing Suffolk Constabulary control room

Police officers on the beat. Police officers on the beat.

Thursday, February 27, 2014
3:21 PM

Strong warnings were voiced at a meeting today over dangers to the public if Suffolk police’s control room moved to Norfolk.

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More than 100 people were in attendance at Martlesham headquarters’ Assembly Hall, including staff who spoke of the devastating impact losing their jobs would have.

A 30-minute segment where the public could give their views left the room in no doubt about the concern being felt by those affected. They included one despatcher who had moved his family to Suffolk six weeks ago to work in the control room.

The section came in the public part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Collaboration Panel meeting, before it went into a private session.

The behind-closed-doors session gave Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and his Norfolk counterpart Stephen Bett the opportunity to hear the recommendations and business for a merged control room based in Wymondham, or elsewhere in Norfolk.

Previously, when the floor was opened up to the public David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, told the panel: “It is an experiment with the safety of the people in Suffolk. I think you should think very, very carefully about going down that route.”

Others who spoke out included members of Unison, which represents many of the workers, and staff from the control room.

They told of the hazards of moving the command and control centre away from Suffolk, to people despatching calls from a location where they were unlikely to have local knowledge.

With many duplicate road names and villages such as Reydon and Raydon in Suffolk, speakers said the accumulated years of experience they had was vital in dealing with emergency calls. The ambulance service control room moving to Hellesdon in Norfolk was held up as an example of the danger of losing local knowledge following various incidents which have occurred.

One of the control room staff who addressed the panel was father-of-two Phil Quickenden.

Mr Quickenden said he began work in the Suffolk Command and Control Centre six weeks ago after relocating from Oxfordshire where he did the same job for Thames Valley Police.

Mr Quickenden asked why he was not told when he applied for the job that a merged control room was being looked at.

After the meeting he said: “It’s potentially devastating for my family. I feel let down. I’m disappointed.

His wife Liz had previously told the panel: “It’s incredibly unjust and incredibly disappointing.”

Mr Passmore, who chaired the meeting, stressed no decisions have been made at this stage and that he would not be agreeing to any proposals that were to the detriment of the people of Suffolk.

5 comments

  • ...."Mr Quickenden said he began work in the Suffolk Command and Control Centre six weeks ago after relocating from Oxfordshire where he did the same job for Thames Valley Police."......A bit confusing. Local knowledge is key when it comes to control room staff, unless of course you come from Oxford, is that right?

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    Fly Tipper

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Norfolk County Council has 50% of its cabinet living in Norwich, we know where their allegiances lie. For Suffolk County Council our decisions are made by a cabinet with not a single councillor living in Ipswich. They are unaccountable and have nothing to lose when they give and gamble away Ipswich’s assets (Police Control Room the latest potential causality). You could tell on BBC Norwich (Look East) that Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett was apoplectic because clearly he believed that this was a done deal.. that Suffolk had already sold out, and he had expected to be announcing it. In the Norfolk’s mind-set it is preposterous to image why Suffolk would not wish to relinquish control, and unthinkable that Norfolk should ? After all isn’t Norfolk in command of everything else in East Anglia, Suffolk is just South Norfolk isnt it !? Clearly Tim Passmore (Suffolk’s PCC) met with more resistance than he imagined and has had to play for time. Yet, the fight is far from won. With the East Anglian Daily Times launching a campaign today to fight for the control room to stay in Suffolk, it is imperative that everyone supports this battle, not only for the control room but to send a clear message that the one way surrender of Ipswich and Suffolk’s assets MUST STOP! And the best way to combat this erosion of Suffolk’s assets is for the county to empower and champion its own regional centre of Ipswich; to counter-balance the threat from Norwich & Norfolk.

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    Mark Ling

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Whilst I have real sympathy for those who might loose their jobs, this is simply a reality of savage austerity cuts. Neither Chief will want to do this but I doubt that there are many alternatives. Control rooms are so automated now that I don't think any of the fears about local knowledge are really an issue. However, I think that there is equal logic in a joint fire, police and ambulance control room in each County.

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    Ellie

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • It was a bit of a disaster when the three controls at Yarmouth, Norwich and Kings Lynn were combined into a single unit at headquarters. Officers were sent to the wrong addresses and it took a day and an age to get through to someone. If they want to have a single control room that`s up to them but why not model it on the way things are done in the Met with one room for the big things but day to day policing run by local mini control rooms called CADS.

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    BG

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

  • Having watched BBC Look East, do you get a feeling that Bett and Passmore are not exactly on each others birthday list. I have a feeling that things are not going to move very fast on this one.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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