Forces invest in unified control room system to improve emergency response

The police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for West Mercia and Warwickshire have approved a six-year £5.5 million contract with Swedish defence contractor Saab Group to provide a unified control room and mobile data service for the two police forces.

Sep 28, 2016
By Paul Jacques

The police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for West Mercia and Warwickshire have approved a six-year £5.5 million contract with Swedish defence contractor Saab Group to provide a unified control room and mobile data service for the two police forces.

The new ‘SAFE’ systems from Saab are a key part of a major project to create a state-of-the-art operations communications centre (OCC), which will handle all emergency and non-emergency calls to both forces.

The contract forms part of Saab’s framework agreement signed with Cheshire Constabulary in December 2015, which was the first UK force to adopt the system that is found in some of the most hi-tech control rooms around the globe.

Saab’s SAFE platform will replace multiple legacy systems across the two forces with a single cost-effective solution. With its multi-role capability and intuitive workflow-driven user interface, it will be employed extensively throughout both forces and be used for multi-channel public contact (including 999 and 101 calls, email and webchat), incident management, radio communications and resource deployment.

The technology means contact handlers can process information faster, make better use of resources and provide a better response to incidents first time.

Officers on the ground will be able to spend more time with the public and find out more about incidents before arriving at the scene, enabling them to make better decisions. It will also open up the potential for new channels to report incidents, improving the way in which the forces interact with the public.

Amanda Blakeman, assistant chief constable, local policing, for Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, said: “Investing in this new Saab command and control system is an exciting move towards us achieving our vision for a completely modernised police force. This technology will bring major improvements to our ability to respond to incidents, giving faster access to all the existing information on our systems when a call comes in. It will also give officers on the street access to more information at their fingertips allowing them to make the better decisions on the ground.”

By using SAFE, the two forces will also be ideally positioned to transition from the current Airwave communications network to the new LTE (long-term evolution) Emergency Services Network (ESN) and with the SAFE Mobile app, start taking advantage of the increased bandwidth the ESN brings.

West Mercia PCC John Campion said the technology represented a “significant step forward” and will enable officers to serve their communities in a “much more effective, efficient way”.

Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe added: “People in Warwickshire quite rightly have the expectation that when they contact the police they will be dealt with efficiently and effectively, with the most appropriate police resources used to meet their call for assistance.

“The signing of the Saab contract represents a very big step forward in achieving this and forms a major part of a larger project which sees the establishment of a new OCC at Neville House in Warwick and at Hindlip in Worcestershire.

“State-of-the-art technology will ensure better coordination of resources and an improved level of service for the public.”

Saab says SAFE combines all the functions required of a modern mission-critical control room into a single software application, including multi-channel communications, contact management, command and control, radio dispatch, mapping and resource management. The modular platform has a unified, intuitive and workflow-based user interface, which is highly configurable and can be deployed on fixed, web and mobile clients.

Simon Read, Saab’s UK director of public safety (support and services) said the contract also puts SAFE’s mobile client in the hands of police officers, “thereby extending the capabilities of SAFE in the control room out to the field”.

Jessica Öberg, Saab’s head of business unit networks and public safety (support and services) added: “SAFE empowers users to make m

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