Historic level of calls to police during storms

THE recent spell of bad weather brought about a huge rise in calls to the local police force communications centre (FCC) on Friday 22 March and Saturday 23 March.

Inspector Gordon Smith, officer in charge of the centre said that in any normal Friday in March they would expect in the region of around 450 calls to the centre, and on a Saturday around 280 calls. Last weekend, the Friday brought in 1786 non emergency and on the Saturday we were presented with 1711 calls.

He said: “It was a similar story for emergency calls - we would normally expect around 20 calls to 999 on any given Friday in March and we experienced 103 on Friday 22nd this year.

“Together with the greatly increased support given to operational officers (such as vehicle recovery requests) who were extremely busy dealing with disruption on the region’s roads, the weekend saw an average five-fold increase in demand on the FCC compared to usual levels. In reviewing the figures it does seem that this has been the busiest time that the communications centre has had since it’s inception in 2004.”

He added: “Because many of the calls were weather and road conditions related, we were able to place a prefix message on the new 101 non emergency number, which signposted callers to the Traffic Scotland website and telephone number if the caller was specifically seeking this type of information. This worked very well and statistics tell us that a great number of calls were ended after the caller received this message, allowing us to deal with more police related calls through these two days.

“Furthermore, dedicated support from colleagues in the force media department in staffing the force Facebook page also helped us to manage the demand. Over the two days the force Facebook site took on some 1500 new followers and our messages reached many thousands of followers.

“Staff worked hard, and remember they themselves had to cope with the trauma of getting to and from their work through the atrocious weather and road conditions and they certainly put in a shift and a half over the two days.”