Bedfordshire’s only 999 call centre is earmarked for closure

Control rooms that deal with emergency and often life saving 999 calls are earmarked to be closed under money saving measures.

Library image.
Library image.

Under the proposals the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambrideshire police forces expect to save £4million.

The collaboration would see the three forces sharing two control rooms, which also deal with 101 calls, and would be based in Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire.

It means that the only Bedfordshire-based control room in Kempston would close and overall the merger is expected to affect 800 jobs.

Beds Police temporary Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “Budget cuts and the current funding provided to the force have meant that we need to explore new ways of working to make the best use of the resources we have. Working together with our neighbouring forces to deliver collaboration in appropriate areas, along with introducing new technology, the force can better meet the necessary savings without compromising our frontline capabilities. We continue to explore further options to increase efficiencies and improve the effectiveness of our service delivery.”

The cash strapped force has already changed the way that it deals with certain crimes so that calls are assessed and if not deemed a priority the victim will have to make an appointment to meet with an officer - possibly on a different day.

The new process called THRIVE has already resulted in improvements to the effectiveness of the control room function, said Chief Constable Boutcher.

“It is still early days but we are seeing a reduction in response times and an increase in successful telephone based resolutions,” he said.

A spokesman for the force said she could not comment on the impact the proposed merger will have on staff.

She said: “We cannot comment on possible job losses while details relating to staffing structures and the location of the sites are still to be agreed and are subject to formal staff consultation.

“The number one priority throughout this work has been to maintain our ability to manage our response to the public, particularly those in most need. We would never make changes that we felt could put the public at risk.”

Beds Police needs to meet a budget shortfall of £17.5million by 2019/20.

It was agreed to propose the latest merger of services, which are subject to staff consultation, at a meeting last Thursday of the police and crime commissioners and the chief constables of the three forces.