Meet Senior Communications Officer Neil Cooper-Papaiacovou from our Force Control Room (FCR). Neil, who’s been protecting and serving Essex since 2012, started his career with Essex Police as a Special Constable after being inspired by one of our trainers. When Neil joined, he met his husband, who was also a Special Constable and is now a police officer.
Throughout Neil’s time in FCR, he’s worked on “dispatch, switchboard, Automatic Number Plate Recognition, supporting jobs which require our Firearms teams to be present, special operations and as an acting supervisor”. Neil went onto say:
“I am a great believer in saying ‘yes’ and adding to my skillset – this gives me so many different roles that I can be called upon to manage and help with.
“Given the skills I’ve amassed from the sheer variety of what I could do from one day to the other is the biggest challenge and the most enjoyable part of my day. Knowing that I’m here to ensure the safety of the public is what drives me!”
Our team of 270 are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and received more than 137,000 999 calls between November 2021 and April 2022.
Unfortunately, our dedicated team of call handlers still receive too many calls that aren't emergencies or are wasting their time when they could be helping people in genuine need.
Please remember, 999 is for genuine emergencies only - if lives are in danger or there is a crime in progress.
To Neil, FCR is “more than just answering 999 calls or dispatching officers to incidents”. It takes great skill to answer those calls quickly, deal with incidents calmly and professionally, and make fast decisions on which resources to send based on their assessment of the information they’re given.
“Every day we manage hundreds of staff and officers across several different shifts, receive multiple requests from across the policing districts, interact with more than 20 agencies, organisations and forces, all while keeping public safety at the heart of everything we do.”
You could help us answer the thousands of 999 calls we receive every day. It’s more than just picking up a phone, it’s making a difference to those that really need our help and saving lives.
Neil has some final bits of advice before you click the apply button to become a call handler.
“The calls and incidents can sometimes make you cry and stress you out, but if you can keep your cool and have a genuine desire to serve the public then this might be for you.
“If ever I need help and support, my manager is available and approachable. I have an excellent relationship with them and know I can call on them if I need to.
“Diversity is important to me too and reminds me that we should strive to mirror in the communities we serve. No matter who we are or where we come from, inclusion drives our diversity. Everyone is included and no-one is excluded.”
Want to discover what you’re capable of as a call handler? Just visit the call handler vacancies on our careers section.
When to call 999
If you are considering calling 999, we would request that you please consider the following before dialling:
Is this a police issue or is another service better suited?
Is the information already on our website? www.essex.police.uk – Please check online
Has a crime already happened and you want to report it? www.essex.police.uk – Report online
Do you want to share some information with us or speak to someone specific? – Call 101
Is it an emergency? Is a crime happening right now, or is life or property at risk? – Call 999
Please help us to protect you.
For non-emergencies, you can call us on 101 or contact us via essex.police.uk.