University students playing key role in managing demand in control room

University students have been playing a key role in managing demand and improving answer times for calls coming into the control room.

Six students studying policing at Wrexham University came to work in the Force Control Centre last summer to assist with switchboard cover and help with high demand at peak times.

The switchboard is a critical part of the overall control room team, triaging all incoming demand and signposting non-emergency calls away from the room, allowing operators to prioritise those most in need of help.

The students’ assistance had such an impact, some, who are also Special Constables in their free time, remained in the control room thereafter, working odd days where they can each week.

Control room manager, Peris Hatton said: “The work the switchboard does is one of the most critical roles we have in the force as it manages the flow of calls into the control room and filters unnecessary demand.

“At peak times and especially during the summer when we see an influx of tourists, demand into the control room increases significantly.

“Last summer, while we had extra resilience with the students, we saw a significant drop in the number of callers abandoning calls – which sometimes happens for example, due to wait times, or because they might decide to report the incident online to save time.

“Their input also massively improved the customer service we were able to provide, as the demand was more manageable – and in turn, the experience gives the students a better understanding of the whole policing process and helps them also in their roles as Special Constables.”

Switchboard operator and student, Matthew Smith, said: “One of the main things I have found with working in the control room is how the experience has helped me progress in the role of Special Constable.

“The Professional Policing Degree has helped me gain confidence and knowledge, whilst having a clear understanding of the policing process and how the control room plays a key role in policing.”

Matthew, 26, will be among the team of six students the force is hoping to have working in the control room again this summer.

Perris added: “The students are an asset to us in the control room, and we’re looking forward to a full team of them returning in the coming months.”

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