Communications Centres Service Centre Independent External Review Final Report - New Zealand Police
Communications Centres Service Centre
Independent External Review
"Titiro Whanui" Final Report
Written and presented by:
Chief Superintendent Michael Corboy, New South Wales Police
Acting Deputy Emory Gilbert, Toronto Police Service
Superintendent Ruth Purdie, North Wales Police
Kevin McKenna, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Ltd
Police National Headquarters, New Zealand Police
PO Box 3017, Wellington, New Zealand
1. The operational effectiveness and efficiency of the New Zealand Police Communications Centres Service Centre (CCSC) have been questioned following a number of high profile incidents.
2. As a result of incidents in late 2004, the Commissioner of Police decided to assemble an independent, external Review Panel.
3. The Panel was composed of senior police communications experts from Australia, Wales and Canada, and an organisational psychologist from New Zealand.
4. The Panel was directed to make recommendations to ensure the CCSC continues to meet public, staff and Police expectations for public and staff safety, public confidence, and policing effectiveness.
5. The full Terms of Reference may be found at Appendix One.
6. In completing its Review, the Panel:
- sought written submissions from the public and Police staff;
- met with selected individuals and groups who made submissions e.g. New Zealand Police Association, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc.);
- interviewed Police Commanders;
- spent time observing the CCSC operations; and
- reviewed overseas practice and published research on emergency service response organisations.
7. Overall, the Review Panel does not believe the CCSC is providing an adequate level of service. New Zealand Police call timeliness performance criteria are not being met nor does the Panel believe they will ever be met under the current circumstances. Key internal and external stakeholders have lost confidence in the CCSC’s ability to effectively and efficiently respond to emergencies.
8. The Panel is very concerned about the potential risks to the safety of the public, front-line police and CCSC staff and the potential for any loss of confidence in the New Zealand Police. The Panel believes that unless New Zealand Police makes urgent changes to how the CCSC operates, further incidents will occur with the attendant risk of further erosion of public confidence in the "111" system, and New Zealand Police. Of positive note is that the Police Executive has already initiated remedial action to address some of the issues rather than delay actions pending the delivery of this report.
9. Despite the Panel’s concerns, two impressive aspects of the CCSC were identified:
- the dedication of the CCSC management and staff to the work they do, and their desire to improve their performance; and
- the communications technology used by New Zealand Police which is world class. The current IT capability is not being fully exploited however. Improvements do need to be made to enhance the technological capability and while investment will be required to achieve significant progress there are several options which will be neither extensive nor expensive.
10. The Panel is of the view that despite the criticality of the problems in the CCSC, they are all readily fixable. Some overseas police forces have had similar performance issues with their communications and emergency response operations.
11. The Panel believes that if the necessary improvements are made, New Zealand Police can develop a leading practice, high performing operational communications capability that will better support the New Zealand Police strategic goals of Crime and Crash Reduction; and Community Safety.
12. The key findings discussed in the report are:
i. New Zealand Police lacks a communications or contact strategy to underpin the integration of communications and the CCSC with the policing strategy, District operations, crime and crash intelligence, public liaison and integration with other government departments who have emergency management/response roles.
ii. There is a lack of understanding throughout the New Zealand Police, and disturbingly within the CCSC, on what the purpose and business of the CCSC is.
iii. There is a lack of buy-in by Districts that can be detrimental to the progress of the CCSC.
iv. Governance (sponsorship, strategy and direction) of communications and the CCSC is deficient and needs urgent attention from strategic and operational perspectives.
v. The current National Management Group structure is essentially defunct given the lack of staff in the national roles. The Acting National Manager therefore has few resources at his disposal and is dragged into managing operational issues particularly in the Northern Communications Centre. As a result, the three Centres operate fairly independently of each other.
vi. The Panel conducted this review from a command and control perspective rather than seeing the CCSC as a call centre, in trying to identify the appropriate overarching framework. Police needs to shift to the view that regards the CCSC primarily as a command centre.
vii. The organisational structure of the CCSC needs to be improved so that the three Centres operate in a more coordinated and integrated manner under a fully resourced national command and management team. The new structure needs to clarify the different responsibilities for command and control of critical incidents, and call centre management.
viii. Non-urgent calls through the "111" queue into the Police CCSC are compromising "111" response timeliness. There is a clear need for a non-urgent national contact number to be established. Once established, the public need to be educated on its use as well as use of the "111" line. An astonishing 68% of all incoming "111" calls are rejected by Telecom as false or bogus calls. Police advises that the number 0800 311 311 has been reserved for the purpose of establishing a non-urgent reporting line at some point in the future.
ix. The Centres do not consistently achieve the performance standards of 90% of emergency "111" calls answered within 10 seconds of the call being presented, and 80% of non-emergency calls answered within 30 seconds of the call being presented. Furthermore, Centre performance on self imposed call handling time targets is poor. No performance framework within each Centre was evident and managers and staff do not know what they are working towards.
x. The statistical analysis of the CCSC performance lacks accuracy and does not take into account calls that Telecom presents to an alternative Centre if the first Centre is busy. The statistics only record calls once they are presented (accepted in a call queue) by a Centre. Once presented, between 3 and 6% of calls will wait for longer than 75 seconds. After 75 seconds, the Telecom operator will manually retrieve the call and re-present or ‘bounce’ the call to another Centre.
xi. The number of calls being ‘bounced’ between the Centres before being answered, and the time taken to answer these calls, is too high. Consideration needs to be given to the introduction of a Networked Automatic Call Distributor (NACD) to cease the occurrence of ‘bounced’ calls. The introduction of such a system will need to be supported by better data sharing and dispatch systems across the three Centres.
xii. Technological tools such as Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) and National Intelligence Application (NIA) automated search, would greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the communications processes. While Police is currently evaluating or considering this technology, the Panel advises caution with these applications to firstly ensure Police is truly prepared for such technology. AVL, for example is not a panacea for inadequate supervision or adherence to standards.
xiii. Radio dispatch channel management needs improvement. Despite Police having many spare channels for use, the CCSC retains the same number of channels. Some channels e.g. Auckland 1, have high levels of radio traffic which can compromise front-line staff safety and reduce response times. Channel linking is another practice which is not recommended except under certain limited circumstances and should not occur during multiple incident scenarios or very active/high volume operational periods.
xiv. The Panel found clear evidence that available units within Districts are either not logging on or not making themselves available for jobs.
xv. Call taking behaviour by communicators needs significant improvement. The Panel is firmly of the view that improvements to call quality can be achieved through training, supervision and structured call taking. As well, employing sworn and non-sworn staff who are capable and competent for the assigned tasks is important.
xvi. Prior to this review being announced, the CCSC had engaged an external call centre consultancy firm, Mi-Quality. The analysis of staffing levels determined a total increase of 21 staff across the three Centres including both communicators and dispatchers in order to meet the required service levels.
xvii. While extra staff was frequently raised as a solution, and sometimes the only solution to the CCSC problems, the Panel does not believe staff numbers (capacity) to be the only issue. There is inherent capability potential in the existing staff base and developing this potential needs to be a primary focus.
xviii. People capability is under-utilised currently through:
- having separate call taker (communicator) and dispatch roles which limits flexible resourcing during high workload situations, and limits career opportunities within the Centres
- recruitment focused solely on call taking rather than incorporating dispatch competencies
- a recent preference for part-time recruits which makes rostering difficult
- locally developed rostering systems which do not optimally match staff with call demand cycles despite the best efforts of the Centre Workforce Coordinators
- lack of a comprehensive training programme and failure to maintain performance standards
- historically high rates of absenteeism for sick leave
- very little on the job training, supervision and mentoring, particularly for sworn members
- lack of debriefing following critical incidents with attendant risks of stress, fatigue and illness
- lack of clarity around procedures for reviewing poor calls with staff
- reluctance of sworn staff to work in the CCSC, the lack of selection criteria and training for them, and the short time many sworn staff spend in the CCSC
- lack of a career structure for both sworn and non-sworn staff within the CCSC
- evidence of a blame culture and absence of positive reinforcement or a recognition programme
- frustration and low morale of many senior sworn staff within the CCSC leadership and management positions
- general lack of morale within the CCSC.
13. The following is a summary of recommendations that appear throughout the report. These recommendations follow the natural order of the report and are not listed here in any particular order. As part of the consideration of the report, it is anticipated that New Zealand Police will want to afford varying priority to the recommendations as it moves into the implementation stage.
Current Demand on Communications Centres
Recommendation 1. Establish a citizen focus panel comprised of key public stakeholders. This should meet quarterly to link into and improve CCSC service.
Recommendation 2. Enhance the Police website as a self-service source of information in the short term by adding a ‘frequently asked questions’ section.
Recommendation 3. Consider the development of a self-service model, linked to an e-policing strategy as a mid to long term initiative.
Recommendation 4. Consideration needs to be given to the introduction of a Networked Automatic Call Distributor (NACD) to cease the occurrence of ‘bounced’ calls.
Recommendation 5. The feasibility of overcoming capacity restrictions to enable national real-time data sharing should be explored with immediacy.
Recommendation 6. The CCSC should establish its own intelligence capability and be considered part of District and national intel data collection plans.
Recommendation 7. Communications should feature more strongly as part of overall Police strategic and business planning processes, including District planning.
Recommendation 8. Establish a rural liaison officer to provide a link with rural communities and organisations and feedback information into CCSC management.
Recommendation 9. As part of the Communications Strategy, consideration should be given to the future establishment of a Single Non-Emergency Number (SNEN).
Recommendation 10. As a matter of urgency, a National Communications Board (NCB) or similarly named group, be established, and
- be composed of:
- be made responsible for:
a. the Commissioner as chairperson
b. selected District Commanders
c. the National Policing Development Manager
d. the National IT Manager
e. the National Manager CCSC
f. any other representatives that the Commissioner considers appropriate.
a. defining the contact and communications expectations of the New Zealand public, and police officers
b. developing a communications/contact strategy, and resulting policies and practices
c. ensuring that the communications strategy is integrated into the broader policing strategy and plans
d. clarifying the purpose and role of CCSC, and the senior management roles within it,? in line with the communications strategy
e. providing direction to the National Manager and management group
f. ensuring effective operational integration of districts and CCSC
g. setting performance principles and objectives for CCSC
h. overseeing the risk management framework
i. establishing effective working relationships with emergency service partners and the IT Advisory Group (ITAG)
j. providing direction and sanction for future expenditure on IT and high cost items/initiatives to support the CCSC.
CCSC Leadership and Management
Recommendation 11. The NCB should act quickly to take initial management control of the CCSC and then:
Recommendation 12. The NCB should then task the National Manager and the NMG, with preparing a revised business plan which reviews the CCSC vision, mission and objectives in light of the communications strategy.
Recommendation 13. The NCB should appoint a mentor to the National Manager, ideally from outside of New Zealand Police.
Recommendation 14. The NCB should consider appointing a change manager to assist the National Manager with the implementation of initial changes.
Recommendation 15. The CCSC management should receive training in managing communications centres. This will be an ongoing exercise and should also include other ranks within the CCSC to develop a level of expertise from the bottom up and across the levels of supervision and management.
Recommendation 16. The NCB should investigate the utility of splitting the critical incident command roles from the Communications Centre management roles.
Recommendation 17. Consideration should be given to reducing the high staff to supervisor ratios (12-16:1).
Recommendation 18. An agreed internal communications strategy including staff focus groups should be developed in consultation with staff and include performance targets.
Recommendation 19. Consideration should be given to creating a dedicated Comms column in the Police Ten-One publication.
Resources/Current Capability (ex People)
Recommendation 20. The National Manager should continue to address business continuity and ensure adequate contingency plans are in place, managers and staff are familiar with them and plans are tested quarterly.
Recommendation 21. A risk assessment of the vulnerabilities of the Northern Communications Centre in a variety of scenarios should be undertaken and reviewed regularly.
Recommendation 22. Once the pilot Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) programme is completed and evaluated, AVL should also be trialled in a predominately rural District before being rolled out nationally.
Recommendation 23. A pilot programme for the use of Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) should be initiated with the future aim of providing MDTs in all operational police vehicles nationally.
Recommendation 24. An ergonomics consultant should be engaged to review the layout and design of each Centre with the intention of providing optimal working conditions for staff.
Recommendation 25. The smoking policy should be fully communicated to all current and potential staff and monitored to ensure compliance.
Recommendation 26. A Workplace Wellness Committee should operate to identify and deal with appropriate issues raised by staff.
Recommendation 27. A workforce planning tool should be purchased for use by the workforce coordinators.
Recommendation 28. An absenteeism strategy should be developed and absenteeism incorporated into the performance framework of supervisors and managers.
Recommendation 29. The CCSC should critically examine how to create more flexibility into its rostering to meet call demand forecasts.
Recommendation 30. Administrative processes and activities should be tidied up to ensure expediency, for example processing leave requests and overtime payments.
Recommendation 31. The CCSC should move to ‘dual role’ staff in call taking and dispatch so that staff can be moved between roles as demands change.
Recommendation 32. The competency profiles need to be integrated into recruitment, training and performance management processes.
Recommendation 33. A training plan based around the competency profiles and a thorough training needs analysis needs to be produced once position roles and responsibilities are fully determined.
Recommendation 34. Training in call management should assume prominence in initial and refresher training.
Recommendation 35. New managers to the CCSC require a management development training programme. This must include all aspects of critical incident command as identified in this report.
Recommendation 36. Performance coaching needs to become a regular feature of the CCSC operating culture.
Recommendation 37. A mentoring role similar to that of the Field Training Officer (FTO) operating in Districts should be established.
Recommendation 38. Quality assurance checks must be carried out and documented for use in the performance review process.
Recommendation 39. Debriefings following critical incidents, or mishandled situations, need to be re-instigated and should be fully documented.
Recommendation 40. A career structure for non-sworn staff needs to be designed following confirmation of revised organisational structure and roles.
Recommendation 41. Time spent in the Communications Centres as an observer, should become a standard element of every probationary constable’s orientation programme.
Recommendation 42. After probation, sworn constables transferred to the CCSC should stay for a minimum of six months.
Recommendation 43. All sworn staff applying or directed to work in the CCSC should complete a comparable assessment to non-sworn staff, and complete comparable training courses.
Recommendation 44. Further analysis of staffing requirements should be undertaken in three and six months time as the determination of services and standards; other initiatives implemented in the meantime will affect the required staffing levels.
Processes and Systems
Recommendation 45. The call management skills of communicators should be improved as a priority through initial and refresher training, and on the job supervision.
Recommendation 46. A structured call taking approach should be adopted and included in communicator training.
Recommendation 47. More radio channels need to be allocated to metropolitan areas to ease channel loadings, particularly during critical incidents and periods of predicted high radio traffic.
Recommendation 48. Rural Rapid Numbering Systems or GPS coordinate data, should be investigated for inclusion in mapping resources.
Recommendation 49. CCSC MSOPs (Master Standard Operating Procedures) should be completed as soon as is practicable and updated on a regular basis.
Recommendation 50. In consultation with the Organisational Performance Group, a full suite of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be designed to enable managers to accurately monitor the performance of each Centre, shift manager and team leader.
Recommendation 51. Operational planning needs to become a critical part of the CCSC business. All operational plans must have the CCSC management buy-in at some level.
Recommendation 52. Consultation with the CCSC should appear as a mandatory requirement for operational orders.
Recommendation 53. Documentation of each critical incident including the debrief process undertaken should be recorded.
Recommendation 54. Clear business rules regarding channel linking need to be established in consultation with District Commanders and the agreed practice communicated to all staff. The practice should continue to be monitored to ensure that rules surrounding safe radio use are adhered to.
Recommendation 55. Supervisors and managers in both the CCSC and Districts need to ensure all business rules surrounding night switching are understood and adhered to. Staff not operating in line with standard business rules must be identified and held accountable.
Recommendation 56. Management must make policy compliance and consistency an issue of accountability and performance management.
Recommendation 57. The CCSC and Districts should seek ways to improve their formal and informal relationships.
Recommendation 58. The form and content of Service Level Agreements should be reviewed by the ‘National Communications Board’ so that their utility and value to Districts and the CCSC are enhanced.
Recommendation 59. Community group liaison by the CCSC should continue through the relevant District Liaison Officers (i.e. Iwi, Pacific or Ethnic Liaison Officers).
Recommendation 60. Public expectations on contact responsiveness by Police should be regularly measured so that these can be used to set performance targets, and shape the content of public education campaigns.
Recommendation 61. Working relationships between the CCSC and emergency response agencies should be deepened.
Introduction to the Review
Review Objective and Terms of Reference
The Review Approach
Overview of Key Findings
CURRENT DEMAND ON COMMUNICATIONS CENTRES
Alternative Contact Options
Incorporation of Communications into New Zealand Police Strategic Planning
The CCSC Purpose
Unit and National Structure
Governance, Command and Management
CCSC Policy and Procedures
CCSC LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
Command versus Management
RESOURCES/CURRENT CAPABILITY (EX PEOPLE)
Facilities and Equipment
Capacity versus Capability
Determining Staffing Requirements
Sick Leave Rates
Coaching and Mentoring
Debriefings following Serious Incidents or Errors
Sworn Officer Employment in CCSC
Career Structure and Progression
PROCESSES AND SYSTEMS
Initial Handling of Calls by Telecom New Zealand Ltd
Communication issues between Communicators and Dispatchers
Availability of Units to Respond
CCSC Use of Intelligence Nodes or ‘Dummy Units’
Ease of Use with LES (Wanganui) and NIA
Intergraph CARD screen field
Radio Discipline and Security
MSOP and Full Deck
Performance Management Framework
Debrief, Special Events
Control and Command