Interested in an insight into the role from a current serving member of staff? Click here to read an interview that gives first hand experience into what it’s like to work in Force Contact.
How about a peep inside the world of Force Contact? One of our officers provides a run-down of their career in Force Contact so far. Click here to read the article.
Nicole – Contact Officer
“I have always had a lot of respect for the police and thought that working for them would be a privilege and an accomplishment. But now after being in the role for over 12 months it is so much more than that. I feel that I have a job role where I can contribute to making society a better and safer place. Each day I get the opportunity to make a difference to someone’s life and assist them in their time of need.
There is so much support within this role coming from supervisors and Inspectors. I am always being encouraged to be the best that I can be and have received some positive feedback from 999 callers which has been flagged to our Inspectors. Even though I have only been in this role for 12 months I am currently going through more training to progress further into a new role.
Each day we answer hundreds of 999 calls for the West Midlands area, these calls range from domestic incidents to missing the bus – no really! It’s important that we keep an open mind on every call as we usually have no information on the caller and whether they have any underlining issues that prompt them to call the 999 service. We try not to judge any of our callers or the situation they are in, as even though it may not seem like an emergency to us it may well be for them.
Our main role as an Emergency Call Handler is to obtain key information from the caller which will assist officers once they arrive on scene. It is important that we try and stay calm and most of all listen to every detail of the call so that we can assist the caller in a productive way. When we receive a non-emergency/police call we try to educate the public on what they should be using the 999 service for and what numbers to use in a non-emergency. We try to do this as best as we can whilst still providing a professional customer service.
I would recommend this role to anyone who is looking for a career where there is progression, support and satisfaction. Not only will you become a valued member of a team, but you will be part of an organisation that is doing the best they can to assist the public and society when most at need.
Even though some days are difficult, stressful and tiring you will always know that you can walk out of work and feel that you have really been a part of making a difference to someone life”.
Gemma – Contact Officer
“I’m proud to tell people I work for WMP, knowing the information I gather can help to lead to successful conviction of those responsible for criminal acts, and the advice and support I provide can help ease, what sometimes can be, a stressful time in their lives.
I work 6 on 4 off pattern consisting of 2 early, 2 lates, 2 nights. Each day I log into various systems that I require to take/log calls and access tools required to assist in providing advice to the public. I take, on average, 81 calls per shift (based late shift Aug2015). I take a wide variety of calls ranging from damage only road traffic collisions, to incidents involving firearms. Every day, every call and every caller is different with different needs.
It’s not an easy role, trying to extract information from someone who can be distressed, or, are in a scenario that makes communication difficult can be challenging. It’s important to adapt communication styles to suit the large array of callers calling the 999 line, but inherently, I need to listen and accurately record what a caller is relaying.
I am, mostly, the first person a caller speaks to when dealing with WMP – I need to ensure I set the tone in a professional, courteous manner and understand what their needs are by following the code of ethics.
I make tough decisions on how a call for service is dealt with, providing rationale as to why I made that decision, ensuring that the NDM (National decision model) mirrors why I have made that decision.
I am required to act quickly, be clear, concise on logs, and use effective questioning to make sure the information passed assists officers in dealing with the incident according to its nature.
Where a call does not constitute a 999 emergency I advise callers, signpost them to the relevant organisation they require, but also educate them in what the 999 line is for.
I’d recommend this role to anyone who likes a challenge and enjoys working within a fast paced environment. It’s not for the faint hearted. You’re the first person that can make a difference; your voice may be the only calming influence in a distressing situation. The caller needs to have confidence in who they’re speaking to, that you’re acting in their best interests but importantly are listening to what they are saying and doing everything possible to help them”
Rachel – Contact Officer
“I enjoy my role as a Contact Officer for West Midlands Police. I had previously worked in a similar environment in the private sector but found myself getting easily bored. I craved the challenge of a role in which I could learn new skills whilst gaining a sense of satisfaction from being able to help the general public.
Every day, the 101 Force Contact Centre receives calls that vary enormously in nature. We are tasked with helping the public in several ways, from transferring calls to creating intelligence and crime reports, offering advice and compiling computer logs for officer despatch.
Some of the calls received do not require police assistance. However, we are still able to assist the caller by signposting them towards the correct agency or by providing the advice they require in order to resolve the issue without police involvement.
If you are an optimistic, hardworking and empathetic person who thrives on helping the public, then I would recommend this role to you. The demands of the role are great at times; it requires an ability to work under pressure and to be able to deal with calls which can be of a sensitive and sometimes distressing nature. But if you are able to handle the pressure of this dynamic but incredibly rewarding role, then it is the right one for you. Force Contact is a significant department within the West Midlands Police and in my view we work superbly as a team.”
Neelam – Contact Officer
“I have worked as an Emergency Call Operator for over 16 years now. I am responsible for answering the 999 calls and ensuring the correct grading has been applied to meet the appropriate response time e.g. Immediate, Early and Routine Response.
On a daily basis I might be dealing with a life or death emergency such as a multiple vehicle pile-up on a motorway, a missing vulnerable child or a break in premises. I may also deal with a non-life threatening situation too, such as theft from motor vehicle where the stereo or satellite navigation has been stolen. These calls will still nevertheless require a police response.
My job is to help the public when they call and get all the essential information from the caller, who might be extremely distressed, anxious, angry or even panicking, as quickly and accurately as possible. My role requires me to think fast and use my initiative whilst working under pressure. I work for the police as it is a dynamic organisation and not one day is the same as the previous day. Every day is a new learning experience.
The calls that do not require the police can be quite challenging. Trying to talk to members of the public who might have a burst water pipe and explaining that it is not a police emergency can be difficult. As it is still an emergency to the caller, I always ensure professionalism and do my best to sign post them to the relevant authorities or give them an alternative number to ring.
I would recommend the role to others as there is no knowing what to expect with each call. The variety is certainly as great as the uncertainty and keeps me on my toes”.