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.

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