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FOI response - Thames Valley Police (Read 32,803 times)
idb
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FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Aug 11th, 2005 at 12:51pm
 
Thank you for your request for information dated 20/07/2005 concerning
information about the implementation and use of Thames Valley Police
0845 number. 

Your request for information has now been considered and our response is
detailed below:

Q1.  I have applied the following exemption to this question:

Section 31 - Law Enforcement

For operational and emergency planning reasons it is inappropriate and
not in the public interest to release the "overlay numbers" into the
public domain. In certain situations, the presentation of these numbers
may well change giving rise to the potential for lost calls. Suffice it
to say that an alternative access number available from abroad is
actively being looked at and will appear on the Thames Valley Police
website in due course.

Q2 - Detailed below is an extract from Thames Valley Police Call
Handling and Control Room Strategy dated April 2000.

Access number
Unlike emergency calls, there is currently no national or Force wide
contact number for non-emergency calls. Customers find it difficult to
remember the number of their local police station, and being
increasingly mobile, often wish to contact the police from outside their
local area. In general, the customer's priority is that their enquiry is
handled appropriately without concern about the specific location of the
person handling their call.

The Home Office Call Handling Strategy Study suggests that a single
national number is required for non-emergency calls. As an interim step,
a number of forces have already adopted single force-wide numbers.

The customer's expectation of the service that will be received is
determined by the number dialled and the way that number has been
publicised. This needs to be taken into account if the customer's
expectations are to be met.

The public shall be provided with simple access to non-emergency
services regardless of their location, and without the need for specific
knowledge of the structure of the Force (e.g. area boundaries).


Q3. TVP receives no revenue/rebate from its 0845 number and in fact we
financially contribute to every incoming call in order to ensure the
caller only pays a local call charge. This was detailed in the business
case and sanctioned by the Chief Constables Management Team.

Q4. BT supplies our non geographic number.

Q5 - We, up until this point, have not been made aware of any problems
of access whilst abroad. However we will now look into this problem and
the best way to resolve it.  As stated in our response to question 1 an
alternative access number available from abroad is actively being looked
at and will appear on the Thames Valley Police website in due course.

Q6 - Prior to the introduction of the single number all customers of TVP
could use a range of non emergency local numbers at "local rate". The
single number was chosen so that the rate charged would not change for
calls from fixed line telephone not only in the Thames Valley force area
but extended this facility to anywhere in the country. This reflects the
advice in the paper quoted which states "for many public services 0845
is suitable (and also reduces hoax calls considerably)"   See also
answer to question 2.

Q7 - PITO was not consulted prior to the introduction of the 0845
number.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in
Thames Valley Police.
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #1 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 9:18am
 
Quote:
TVP receives no revenue/rebate from its 0845 number and in fact we financially contribute to every incoming call in order to ensure the caller only pays a local call charge. This was detailed in the business case and sanctioned by the Chief Constables Management Team.


"We financially contribute to every incoming call"  Shocked

Let's face it, the boys in blue aren't recruited for their financial aptitude, but aren't they supposed to have some ability to question people?

To be gormless & gullible enough to make the decision "let's spend taxpayers' money on a number that means the taxpayer's phone bill at best stays exactly the same but more likely goes up" is quite breathtaking!

One can only speculate on the constituents of the Chief Constable's Management Team... a salesman from each telco, with the ghost of Robert Maxwell as chairman?
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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GrahamH
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #2 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 9:36am
 
Quote:
Call Handling and Control Room Strategy.

The customer's expectation of the service that will be received is determined by the number dialled and the way that number has been publicised.


Brilliant flannel, but I think it means "Thames Valley Police think people who dial the 01734 number expect an in-bred idiot on the other end, but people who dial 0845 expect someone smart."

I suspect this is the line the telcos feed them.
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What's the point of 0845? Local rate my ar$e. Usually MORE than Inverness to Penzance on normal nos. Occasionally the same, never less!&&&&OFCOM - A Truly Great Regulator, if you're out to gouge consumers
 
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #3 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 8:02pm
 
havent seen a police force use this exemption before.

Ask for an internal review, and demand a number for calling from abroad.

Remind them of the updated COI information.
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #4 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 10:00pm
 
Quote:
Ask for an internal review, and demand a number for calling from abroad.

Remind them of the updated COI information.
I agree.

I noticed they have still got local rate and how it apparantly benefits callers even outside their local area!  I'd quote the three website address as I posted in your
COI Update
thread you (idb) started in geo chat, and even ask them to look at OfCOM's
Contact Us
webpage which clearly indicates that a geo number is cheapest option for most callers (except those on Light User scheme).

Taken from OfCOM's contact us website:-
Quote:
020 7981 3040 (this number will be the cheapest option for most callers)
or
0845 456 3000 (this number may be cheaper for callers on the BT Light User Scheme calling from outside the London area)
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« Last Edit: Aug 21st, 2005 at 10:07pm by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #5 - Aug 23rd, 2005 at 2:57pm
 
I today have sent my own FOI request in highlighting 0845 is no longer classed as 'local', etc and the fact that calling them from a phonebox or mobile can cost upto 40ppm and therefore acts as a "cost barrier".

I also believe that idb has asked for a internal review of the outcome from his FOI request.

I Shall post here when I receive my reply.
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« Last Edit: Aug 23rd, 2005 at 2:57pm by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #6 - Sep 5th, 2005 at 2:09pm
 
Acknowledgement of review shown below, with a target date of December 5. What on earth can be so complex that the review will take three months and possibly more to complete?! Ludicrous.

<<
I acknowledge receipt of your email dated 22nd August 2005 requesting
that Thames Valley Police review its response to your request for
information concerning Information about the implementation and use of
Thames Valley Police 0845 number. 

The review will be conducted in accordance to Thames Valley Police's
review procedure and every effort will be made to have a response to you
by the 5th December 2005, however if it becomes clear that the review
will not be completed by this date you will be contacted.

If you wish to discuss this matter prior to Thames Valley Police's
response please contact me.
>>
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #7 - Sep 5th, 2005 at 3:13pm
 
DECEMBER?

WTF!!!!!!

Id ask them to give a response to your internal review request in 20 working days or else you class the period as unreasonble and are going to the information commisoner.
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #8 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 9:55am
 
I today received an email from TVP in response to my FOI.  Nothing new from what idb has printed except they make a contribution of 0.4ppm.

I shall ask for an internal review with a view of taking it to the IC.
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idb
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #9 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 1:10pm
 
Quote:
I today received an email from TVP in response to my FOI.  Nothing new from what idb has printed except they make a contribution of 0.4ppm.

I shall ask for an internal review with a view of taking it to the IC.
The respone to my internal review request was received this morning. I will now take this to the IC as the reply is unacceptable. What is beginning to now annoy me is the constant garbage, lies and BS spouted by these people. Local rate is just not true. These people are being paid to tell *lies*. Why is this whole matter so difficult for these people to comprehend?

<<
I refer to your request for information dated 20th July 2005 and your
subsequent request dated 22nd August 2005 for a review of our response
regarding the non-emergency telephone number 0845 8 505 505.

I can advise you that Thames Valley Police has now completed its review
and having discussed this with the Head of the Force Security Department
and the Head of ICT Communications Department our decision not to
release the underlying (delivery) numbers is upheld.

In addition to the exemption (section 31) applied and reasons previously
stated, a variety of call processing such as Interactive Voice Response
statistics gathering, and load distribution is applied to these calls
before they are delivered to the underlying (delivery) numbers.  These
numbers are widely distributed and frequently taken out of service as
part of the load balancing scheme.  Revealing these administrative
delivery numbers could result in callers receiving a lower grade of
service. An alternative access number available from abroad is actively
being looked at and will appear on the Thames Valley Website in due
course.

The cost of calls to 0845 numbers is a matter for the caller and their
Telecoms provider.  The only advice we can give is that available on the
Ofcom website that this is a local rate number.

As you know, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner
for a decision as to whether or not we have dealt with your request in
accordance with the provisions in part 1 on the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.  You can do this by writing to him at:

FOI Compliance Team (Complaints), Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.
Web: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
Email: mail@ico.gov.uk

If you wish to discuss this matter prior to any further action on your
part please contact me.
>>
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #10 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 1:40pm
 
Quote:
..I shall ask for an internal review with a view of taking it to the IC...
Further to this, I have just emailed them with my request for an internal review.  This is what I wrote (in 2 parts):-

Part 1/2:

====================================
Thank you for your email dated today and the replies to my FOI questions.

Regarding my question 1 and your exemption, I hereby request an internal review with a view of taking this further to the information commissioner and also the home office and the Prime Minister (if needed).

In question 1, I asked for the geographical number that your 0845 8 505 505 (non-emergency contact number) points to (terminates at) and your exemption was on the basis, amongst other things, that it is not in the public interest to release this number to the public domain.

I totally disagree with this and would like to state that it is definitely in the interest of the public to have the geographical number for the reasons mentioned below:-

Calling an 0845 actually costs more than calling a local rate geographical number and calling from a public payphone or mobile can actually cost upto about 40ppm.  Can I remind you that in your reply to one of my questions you quoted the following from your Thames Valley Police Call Handling and Control Room Strategy dated April 2000:-

"Customers find it difficult to remember the number of their local police station, and being increasingly mobile, often wish to contact the police from outside their local area. In general, the customer's priority is that their enquiry is handled appropriately without concern about the specific location of the person handling their call."

Now from your own quote you admit that us public are increasingly mobile and often wish to contact you from outside our area.  I agree that you are correct in this assumption and being increasingly mobile if I or any other general public want to ring you from a payphone or mobile (mobiles are extremely popular these days) then you expect me and the general public to pay upto about 40ppm to call your 0845 number when it WOULD be significantly cheaper for us (and possibly free with inclusive minutes), and therefore in our interest, to call your geographical number?

Also from that same quote, you state that "customers find it difficult to remember the number of their local police station" but can I say not much has changed.  If I were to ring your switchboard on your geographical number or your 0845 number you would still transfer me to the police station or whichever department is more relevant for my specific problem/query.  Internal calls including those between different police stations do not cost any extra so it is of no benefit to us having an 0845 number in these circumstances.

You mention in your exemption that for operation and planning reasons it is not in our interest but if this is correct can I ask how you managed to survive on your geographical number upto when you changed over to an 0845 number if having an 0845 is so important for the operation and planning?  Why did you not choose an 0845 sooner as they've been in available since before I can remember?  Have you ever even experienced severe loss of call handling ability when using your geographical number that an 0845 would have prevented?

(continued.........)
============================
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« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2005 at 8:00am by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #11 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 1:41pm
 
Part 2/2:-

(..... continued)
===================================
I would also like to reiterate what I put in my original request and that is an 0845 acts as a "cost barrier" due to the excessive costs of ringing an 0845 and therefore may stop the public from ringing you.  If I witnessed a crime being committed/offence or a non-serious RTC (Road Traffic Collision) or something similar whilst away from home do you really think it is in my interest for me to report this on your 0845 number at such excessive costs from what may be the nearest payphone or a mobile knowing that it was going to cost me upto 40ppm (if not more)?

Also in my original email I pointed out that not all operators outside the UK will allow connection to a UK NGN (non-geographical number) beginning with 084x/087x.   Although it may be rare to receive calls from abroad it is possible that I (and other people) whilst on holiday abroad may have cause to ring you for which depending on the operator may be impossible.

I also pointed out that the new revised edition of COI (Central Office of Information) guidelines  make it obvious that calling a 0845/0870 number is not recommended due to the "excessive costs" involved and in particular I quoted this from it:-

"(2) 0845 in particular has been known as ‘local rate’ – however with increased competition in the marketplace and resultant changes in tariff structures, these rates will often be in excess of normal local rates that citizens might be charged on their package. 0845 (and 0844) costs through phone boxes and some mobile tariffs can also be expensive to the citizen and this should also be considered."

I would also like to state that due to the excessive costs involved in ringing a Non-Geographical (084x/087x) number, OfCOM have taken the initative to include a geographical number for their contact number in addition to an 0845 and even point out that ringing a geographical number in most cases (except only one actually) is cheaper than ringing their 0845 number.

I would also like to point out that I received a letter from Mr Ian Bloom, Home Office, Police Finance and Information Technolgy Unit, and I quote a relevant paragraph from it:-

"We have also reviewed the use of 0870 numbers in respect of the core Home Office's public enquiry service, and concluded that with immediate effect we should switch to a geographical (0207) number."

I would also like to point out that due to the costs involved in ringing an 084x/087x number, the government have taken a decision that any Casualty Bureau number (god forbid it should be needed again) will be a freephone number which is free for landline callers and a geographical number for those ringing from abroad or from a payphone/mobile.

Now taking into consideration all that I've mentioned above, how is it not in the public interest to disclose your underlying geographical when the Home Office, OfCOM, and any future Casualty Bureau number will be a geographical number?

(the end)
==================================
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« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2005 at 8:03am by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #12 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 4:33pm
 
Quote:
The cost of calls to 0845 numbers is a matter for the caller and their Telecoms provider.  The only advice we can give is that available on the Ofcom website that this is a local rate number.

Where? Can we have a link please?

So Ofcom says it is local rate, so it must be. Roll Eyes

So when someone says "I wasn't me officer", do they take them at their word, or do the investigate the facts? Roll Eyes

We brief them with the facts, and they don't want to know!!!

Point out Ofcom's own contact page. Why, therefore, does Ofcom itself show both numbers and point out that the geographical number will be cheapest for most people?
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #13 - Sep 21st, 2005 at 4:49pm
 
Quote:
....Point out Ofcom's own contact page. Why, therefore, does Ofcom itself show both numbers and point out that the geographical number will be cheapest for most people?
I did just this in my original FOI request to TVP and included ASA/CAP, COI & OfCOM guidelines.  In my reply they never mentioned nothing about 0845 being local rate.  In my request for an internal review I again pointed OfCOM's website, the Home Office's letter from Ian Bloom I got stating with immediate effect they will use an geo number instead of an 0870 (although they haven't but that's a different matter) and also the fact that casualty bureau in the future will now have a geographical.

To be honest my reply back asking for an internal review and stating reasons why (in posts above), I've just noticed I've mentioned the same thing (nearly) twice - as in the last two paragraphs are nearly the identical but my excuse is I was a bit annoyed at their response and basically the fact they don't care about those ringing from mobiles may have to pay 40ppm, etc.
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Re: FOI response - Thames Valley Police
Reply #14 - Sep 25th, 2005 at 9:28am
 
Having sent of my request for an internal review on 21st Sept, I received a reply back from this internal review on 23rd Sept as follows:-

Quote:
I refer to your request for information dated 23rd August 2005 and your subsequent request dated 21st September 2005 for an internal review of our response concerning the non-emergency telephone number 0845 8 505 505.

Thames valley Police has now completed its review and having read your public interest concerns discussed this with the Head of Control Rooms & Enquiries Dept, Force Security Dept and ICT Communications Dept our decision not to release the underlying (delivery) numbers for the reasons previously stated is upheld.

As you know, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision as to whether or not we have dealt with your request in accordance with the provisions in part 1 of the Freedom of information Act 2000.
I notice they took a really long, hard look and fully investigated my internal review before still saying no.  Two days to look at a request for an internal review has to be a world record of somekind!

Needless to say I'm taking this to the IC and I'm now going to write to the Prime Minister at the disgrace that anyone out and about that witnesses something and wishes to report to the police (via non-emergency number) is expected to pay upto 40ppm from payphone/mobiles because they don't want people to know their geographical number.
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