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Police Scotland degree of “unwillingness” to transfer demand

An HMICS report released today on Police Scotland’s Contact Assessment Model has found that there is a culture within the force of wanting to do/prioritise everything.

Today’s HMICS Assurance Review of the Police Scotland Contact Assessment Model has said the force has made “considerable progress” on contact, command, control (C3) – and boasts an 85 per cent satisfaction rate for initial contact treatment.

It comes following the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell back in 2015 who lay in a crashed car at the side of the M9 for three days before being discovered.

The force had since admitted that their failings “materially contributed” to the death of Ms Bell - after there was a three day delay between a call reporting the crash to the police and officers attending.

An officer at the call-handling centre had failed to record the 101 call on the Police Scotland IT system.

A review was carried out in 2015 and since then, five reports have been produced by HMICS – and 38 recommendations made to Police Scotland and the SPA.

The latest assurance review has said that the Contact Assessment Model (CAM) has been a “significant change” – moving over from policy-driven responses to individual assessments of threat, harm, risk, investigation, vulnerability and engagement (THRIVE).

Nonetheless, Police Scotland is not immune to the pressures some of the other forces are facing – and demand in areas of mental health, distress and vulnerability is increasing.

While the force was commended for “some very effective local partnership arrangements” as well as certain collaborations with NHS 24 and the Scottish Ambulance Service – there is no data to back up the precise effect of these partnerships on call handling.

Moreover, the report has uncovered a “degree of risk aversion and unwillingness to transfer demand to partners”.

HMICS has said that there was evidence of a culture of “wanting to do/prioritise everything, where policing becomes the service of last resort.”

It continued: “There is a risk that this culture can result in an organisation becoming paralysed, and unable to cope with unfettered demand”.

The report has said that staff in C3 may need to be reminded of the need to transfer demand to partners where appropriate.

Partnership working had been identified by the force as one of five strategic benefits of CAM.

Currently, only around half of the 3.4 million yearly contacts to Police Scotland result in an incident being raised, and around 400,000 incidents are recorded as ‘non-police attendance’. Less than 20 per cent result in a crime being recorded.

When CAM was first rolled out – C3 had both CAM Champions and ‘floorwalkers’ who would be on hand to support staff- the latter was lost over the pandemic.

HMICS called for staff working in service centres, and those in direct crime recording, to have appropriate training and support to correctly identify and record incidents, crime types and appropriate disposals – which would encompass transfers to other partners.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Craig Naylor said: “CAM was instrumental in enabling Police Scotland to maintain an appropriate level of service to communities across Scotland during an unprecedented and challenging period.

“Our findings are positive, endorse the concept and ambition of CAM, and it is important to acknowledge the considerable progress which has been made in this area of policing.

“Its roll-out across Scotland was accelerated when the impact of the pandemic started to be felt.

“CAM was able to be adapted depending on what level of restrictions were in place at any given time, in different parts of the country.

“And while it is clear its long-term potential benefits were adversely affected by Covid-19, it had a crucial role in maintaining public trust and confidence in policing.”

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