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FOI - West Mids Police (Read 15,862 times)
mc661
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FOI - West Mids Police
Apr 1st, 2006 at 2:38am
 
My Standard Request sent on 16th March.
Phoned up on 21st march asking where confirmation was.
Email sent on 20th confirmed response was recived on 16th.

We shall wait and see.
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mc661
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #1 - Apr 5th, 2006 at 4:52pm
 
not bad response time,


1. Do you use 0870 telephone numbers?
West Midlands Police do not use 0870 telephone numbers.
2. Do you use 0845 numbers?
We have a single 0845 number for non-emergency calls. If you have regular contact you are provided with the extension number to go directly through the auto attendant.
2.1. And if so, what are the equivalent geographical numbers?
This information is exempt under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Please find enclosed the statutory exemption applicable to your request and a summary of the reasons why it has been applied. Direct dial numbers for individuals are sometimes provided to those who have regular contact with the same person.
2.1.1. What would be the telephone number for callers from outside the UK to call?
The number is 0845 113 500, which works from most countries. Where issues are identified they are referred to our supplier.
2.2. What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0845 numbers?
West Midlands Police receive a small percentage of the inbound interconnect revenue which assists in funding additional lines rented to support the 0845 service route. This revenue varies depending on volume and types of calls. Unfortunately we are unable to provide any further information on the amount of revenue received as this is considered commercial and in confidence with our supplier.
2.3. Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your callers?
No.
2.4. Have you considered the revised COI* guidelines?
2.4.1. If so, what conclusions did you come to?
This document was not considered. The COI state, as noted on the webpage you provided, that expert advice that relates to your own specific circumstances should always be sought. The circumstances of a police force are very different from the circumstances of a government department to which this guidance appears to be primarily targeted. Our single number is used for the public to report non-emergency
crimes. It is not ‘first and foremost a marketing channel’, but rather a key element in effective policing which helps West Midlands Police communicate with the public in order to reduce crime.
2.5. Do you realise that a call to local number costs the same as a call to anational number when made from the same location for the majority of telephone subscribers?
We recognise the terminology but we give callers the current local rate.
2.6. Do you realise that 0845 numbers now offer no cost advantage to callers, irrespective of their location, only disadvantages?
This is not a valid question under the Freedom of Information Act. Rather it is a statement of opinion proceeded by the phrase ‘do you realise’. Please state clearly what documents or information would satisfy your request.
2.7. Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0845 numbers, including calls from mobile phones?
Callers are charged at their service provider rates.
2.8. How much does it cost to call an 0845 number:
2.8.1. In the Daytime.
2.8.2. In the Evening.
2.8.3. At Weekends.
This varies by service provider and package. Current rates for British Telecom can
be found on their website:
http://www.bt.com/
3. What companies operate your:
3.1. 0845 telephone numbers.
Telewest Communications.
3.2. 0870 telephone numbers.
Not applicable.
3.3. Telephone switch equipment
These are operated internally, with a support contract with an outside company.
4. I would also like all the internal documents, memos; meetings; discussions and any information relating to the tender of the 0870, 0845 numbers.
This request is very broad and the cost of providing you with the information is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond, i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the "appropriate level" as stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004. Please be more specific regarding the documents or information required.
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mc661
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #2 - Apr 5th, 2006 at 4:53pm
 
EXEMPTION NOTICE

Information Requested:
The direct dial number for the WMP switchboard and all other numbers available through auto attendant.

Applicable Exemptions
Section 31

Harm
West Midlands Police (WMP) provide a local rate 0845 number for members of the public to contact the police for non-emergencies. This central switchboard number is also the one the public should use if contacting their local station and other officers who they have regular contact with.
If direct dial numbers for stations were used by the public, there is a danger that there could be some delay to the appropriate police response. People sometimes call their local police station to report things which are really emergencies. However emergencies are best dealt with centrally by staff who are trained in recognising emergencies and who know who is the best person to deal with the call. In addition, while many police stations are not open all day, the central switchboard is staffed 24 hours a day.

If direct-dial numbers were introduced it is likely to adversely affect the efficiency and effectiveness of WMP. There is evidence that the introduction of the 0845 number and related call answering system has dramatically increased the percentage of calls answered and decreased the time taken to answer those calls. This has improved the ability of the public to contact the police and WMP’s capacity to answer those calls appropriately and quickly. Misdirected and failing calls have fallen since the introduction of a single contact point. Again this has improved the accessibility of the police and enhanced the operational effectiveness and efficiency of WMP.

Public Interest Test
Issues favouring disclosure:

Choice
If the direct dial numbers were made public, then the public could choose which number they preferred to dial – the direct dial number or the central switchboard.

Issues favouring non-disclosure:
Efficient and effective conduct of the service
The proportion of calls answered has risen from 90 per cent to 99.5 per cent since the introduction of a single contact number. It is self-evident that this means that the WMP is now not only more efficient, but is dealing with the public more effectively.
Public Safety
The ability of WMP to respond to emergencies could be compromised if direct dial numbers were released. If OCUs were flooded with phone calls they may cease to be effective at answering those calls. If individuals are delayed/not able to get through them it is possible that some crimes may go undetected, or even unreported.
Flow of Information to the Service
Where the release of information may deter the public from providing information in the future, then this will inhibit the service’s ability to carry out its public functions. An example of this would be someone failing to get through to the police on the phone, leading to the non-reporting of an incident and unwillingness to contact WMP in the future.


Conclusion
For a public interest test, issues that favour release need to be measured against issues that favour non-disclosure. The public interest is not what interests the public, or a particular individual, but what will be the greater good, if released, to the community as a whole. We recognise that release of this information may assist those members of the public who wish to use direct dial numbers. However this must be balanced with the impact any release would have on the operational capability of the police. Since the introduction of the 0845 number, the number of misdirected and unanswered calls to WMP has reduced, by as much as 100,000 per month. This represents a significant improvement in the service offered to the majority of the public.
In addition staff on the switchboard have access to a frequently asked questions database and can often resolve straightforward enquiries at this first point of contact. This represents a more efficient way of answering these queries, both for the public and for West Midlands Police. Clear lines of communication between the public and the police are a key element in effective policing. There is clear evidence that the introduction of the new single number has improved WMP’s ability to receive and answer calls from the public effectively. If the direct dial numbers were in the public domain it is likely that there would be an increase in misdirected and unanswered calls.

On balance the need for the police to effectively carry out operations and communicate effectively with the public must take precedence over the desire of some people’s preference to use direct dial numbers. This means that in this case at this time it would not be in the public interest to release this information.
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mc661
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #3 - Apr 5th, 2006 at 4:56pm
 
Now my comments.

It seems that the police forces have started to come up with more and more interesting reasons for refusing to give the GN out.
That public interest test was flawed as they always are, He forgot to add Cost effectiveness, clarity, 'best value', international callers.

I have as standard asked for an internal review, reminding them that other police forces have released the GN and using that as precedence.

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4PetesSake
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #4 - Nov 4th, 2006 at 4:23pm
 
Perhaps WMP also need to be reminded that some people have theri phones blocked, which prevents them from dialling 0845 & 0870 numbers. These people would have no alternative but to dial 999 in the event of havine to contact them.

I imagine that the 999 operator who queries why the person has dialled 999 could not admonish them for doing so if there is no alternative due to WMP having refused to give them their geographic number and their phone being blocked from dialling the 0845 number.
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AdamF
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #5 - Dec 23rd, 2006 at 7:31pm
 
4PetesSake wrote on Nov 4th, 2006 at 4:23pm:
I imagine that the 999 operator who queries why the person has dialled 999 could not admonish them for doing so if there is no alternative due to WMP having refused to give them their geographic number and their phone being blocked from dialling the 0845 number.


Can, and do. If it's not an emergency, you don't dial 999. If you do, expect to get an earful of abuse from the police operator with a suggestion to go find a pay phone or a neighbour. Sick to death of people abusing 999 "because I don't have any credit", "my phone doesn't allow outgoing calls", "I can't ring 08 numbers", "I'm too stupid to live", etc.

A tad strong perhaps... but you get the idea.
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4PetesSake
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #6 - Dec 23rd, 2006 at 8:09pm
 
AdamF wrote on Dec 23rd, 2006 at 7:31pm:
4PetesSake wrote on Nov 4th, 2006 at 4:23pm:
I imagine that the 999 operator who queries why the person has dialled 999 could not admonish them for doing so if there is no alternative due to WMP having refused to give them their geographic number and their phone being blocked from dialling the 0845 number.


Can, and do. If it's not an emergency, you don't dial 999. If you do, expect to get an earful of abuse from the police operator with a suggestion to go find a pay phone or a neighbour. Sick to death of people abusing 999 "because I don't have any credit", "my phone doesn't allow outgoing calls", "I can't ring 08 numbers", "I'm too stupid to live", etc.

A tad strong perhaps... but you get the idea.


We in Britain already have enough stealth taxes, we don't need Police Forces introducing any more. I agree that many people unnecessarily dial 999 for the wrong reasons and I am very familiar with all of the excuses but this is a situation that West Mids Police have brought on themselves as a result of their greed.
Other Forces have given out their Geographic number when requested for it, so why can't West Mid's. They have no excuse if they get an increase in unwanted 999 calls as a result of this absurd policy.
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AdamF
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #7 - Dec 23rd, 2006 at 11:01pm
 
I could not agree with you more, believe me. Some (including my own) police force are coming round to the argument and now provide geographic number on their website. It's not as prominent as it could be, but I'm working on that.

When the 0845 number was first introduced (many years ago here), it was good intentioned I feel. But with increasing technology pace, lower rates from telecom providers and the explosion of mobile usage, they are now a menace rather than a help.
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trickyd
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #8 - Dec 25th, 2006 at 1:43am
 
Have you referred the matter to the Information Commissioner?
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mc661
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Re: FOI - West Mids Police
Reply #9 - Mar 19th, 2007 at 6:56pm
 
no cant be bothered
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