Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Breakdowns in police radio system

Police radio
The hi-tech Airwave system was introduced in 2005

A new police communication system has been plagued by breakdowns, including during some of the biggest emergencies in Devon and Cornwall.

"Airwave" network logged faults on 93 occasions between 2005 and 2008, according to figures released under a Freedom of Information request.

The hi-tech digital radio system failed when the MSC Napoli ran aground and looters descended on Devon in 2007.

Devon and Cornwall Police said it was working hard to build new masts.

The force admitted problems had occurred in remote areas or when the volume of calls had overwhelmed the system.

Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Hall explains the "Airwave" police radio system

The police federation told BBC South West's Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Hall it was concerned about the reliability of the Airwave system.

Federation spokesman Sgt Steve Tovagliari said: "It's a major issue for us because our primary concern is for officers' welfare and safety.

"If the system fails, obviously the officers aren't going to be afforded the protection for them or the people of Devon and Cornwall."

2005 - 26 faults logged
2006 - 19 faults logged
2007 - 14 faults logged
2008 - 34 faults logged

But Devon and Cornwall Police said Airwave was an improvement on its old analogue radios.

"It works and there's been investment which will allow it to move into the future," force spokesman Tim Bishop said.

"The public should be assured it provides us with the communication we need to support public safety."

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