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  • Writer's pictureAndy Oldham

Call takers - the front line

If you've ever needed to call the police in an emergency situation, then you'll have been put through to the call centre in your nearest police force. 999 calls should be answered almost immediately (the national target is 90% of 999 calls answered within 10 seconds - how is your local force doing?)

The person who answers your call will almost certainly be a member of police staff. Their next call could be almost literally anything - an enquiry about someone in custody, a report of a crime, someone wanting to know if they're wanted by the police, a report of a suspicious vehicle, someone (often drunk) demanding a number for a local taxi, a complaint about a police officer... you get the idea.

Of course, some of these calls are true emergencies - a road traffic collision, a fight, an assault in progress, a firearms incident, even the most serious crimes like a rape or murder. Often the first person in the police service to deal with these serious incidents will be someone sat at a computer in a police call centre. They have to be calm, professional, resilient, getting the information the police need out of people who are sometimes angry, drunk, drugged, frightened, hysterical even.

Call takers have a very tough job, long hours, having to speak to some of the most vulnerable and desperate people in society. I applaud them - the police on the streets couldn't do the job without them.

The Police Advisor: If your next Film or TV Production, Script, Book or Story is portraying call takers dealing with 999 calls to the police, then let me help you to get the right look and/or terminology to give your piece that extra authenticity it deserves!


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