International Control Room Week, 10 to 16 October, gives us an opportunity to thank the voice of Essex Police – our call handlers, who are a part of this amazing team and celebrate the vital work they do.
The Force Control Room (FCR) and Resolution Centre are at the heart of Essex Police, helping those who have reported crimes.
Taking thousands of calls from the public daily and dispatching officers to those in need, the FCR team operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing a service to the people of Essex. Dealing with emergency and non-emergency incident While the Resolution Centre team carry out investigations into crimes being reported to us via our online and 101 services.
Our call handlers are the voice of Essex Police – they are the first point of contact for victims of crime.
“When I first applied for the job within FCR, I completely underestimated what a skill it is to talk, type and listen all at the same time.” said Emma Cooke who joined FCR as a call handler in 2020.
Emma explains the great skill it takes 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.
“It is a skill that you learn, and I remember the first time I saw someone doing it, as well as navigating several different programmes on the computer. I thought that they were like an octopus!” "When you call 999, the person answering the call is not only talking, listening, and typing, but they are using at least two computer programmes at the same time."
In September newly retired staff member Tony Boothman was shortlisted by the National Control Room Awards for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tony had worked in the Essex Police Force Control room for nearly 48 years when he retired.
Having started his career with us in 1986 walking the beat in Basildon and Brentwood, he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on his way into work. It was after this that Tony found his home in FCR where he has helped and supported countless people throughout his career.
Tony’s accident certainly didn’t affect his ability to help people and keep them safe.
“I took a call from a man who was stood on the wrong side of the railings of a bridge over the A12, but I managed to keep talking to him, to comfort and reassure him, while assisting officers until they arrived and took him to safety. It’s emotional to receive those calls and you go home and you do think ‘could I have done that differently?’. “But there is a great support network here. As a call handler, you are surrounded by support from your fellow call handlers and supervisors. I helped staff as much as I helped the public."
When asked about being a part of this front-line team Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper who is the Head of Contact Management, which FCR and the Resolution Centre are part, of said: “Almost everything we do begins with a call for help. Our call handlers have a matter of seconds to make decisions with an impact which can last for years. “But they don’t make these decisions once or twice, they make them 50,000 times every month. The team’s dedication to helping our communities is admirable and I want to thank them for all they do. “When you pick up a call you don’t know what is happening on the other end of the line, it’s our duty to remain calm, assess the situation and get people the help they need. “I also want to take the opportunity to thank their families, we know that it is not always easy work and while we have a number of different support networks, associations and services available to everyone who works at Essex Police. It is the support our families and friends provide which is vital and makes a difference.“