Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 13:15 UK

Union anger at 999 call proposal

Police control room (generic)
Cleveland Police said officers would still answer some 999 calls

Union leaders have asked Cleveland Police to scrap plans to privatise some control room activities, including the answering of 999 calls.

The force has shortlisted three firms to provide IT and "customer care" services in its Teesside control room.

The union Unison said police employed civilian control room staff were "vital components" in the fight against crime.

Cleveland Police said the changes would still see officers in control of incidents and taking some 999 calls.

Dave McLuckie, chair of Cleveland Police Authority, said no final decision had been made yet and that staff were being consulted.

'Unnecessary gamble'

He said: "Our decision to examine the possibility of working with a partner in ICT and some control room functions is not about putting profits first, but it is about fulfilling our responsibility to deliver the most efficient and effective service to the public we serve.

"At this stage there has been no decision to reach an agreement with a private sector partner. All we are doing is examining the potential for such an arrangement."

But Peter Chapman, Unison regional organiser, said: "These staff are vital components in Cleveland Police force's excellent record on fighting crime and keeping the people of Cleveland safe.

"We believe that it is an unnecessary gamble to hand these vital services over to a private company who's first concern must always be profit."

Acting chief constable Derek Bonnard added: " We have stipulated that the control room, including the 999 service, will remain at police headquarters and will still include police officers, who will continue to command and control any incidents."

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