Catterick soldiers visit police control room ahead of Afghanistan deployment

Soldiers from Catterick Garrison have visited North Yorkshire Police’s control room as part of their preparations for deployment to Kabul in Afghanistan.

Police staff welcomed officers and soldiers of the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) today when they demonstrated the skills of coordinating a resource to emergency incidents through immersive training.

Whilst the deployment to Kabul will be a second return in as many years for 2 YORKS, it will be the first operational deployment for some of their officers and so the opportunity to learn first-hand from the force how emergency information is received, interpreted and deployed was regarded as an opportunity not to be missed.

The training is well-timed as the force is experiencing one of their busiest periods in term of demand.

So far in July 2019, the force has received 4,872 999 calls and if the rate continues expects to receive 9,135 calls by the end of the month, an 11 per cent increase from June and an 8 per cent increase from July 2018.

Welcoming the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, Superintendent Jason Dickson, head of customer contact for North Yorkshire Police said: “Our Force Control Room deals with incredible levels of demand on a daily basis and so when our colleagues in the army asked if they could train with us in our control room to see just how we deal with both the emergency and non-emergency calls we were more than happy to help.

“Our call handlers work incredibly hard in pressurised circumstances and so it’s an honour for that to be recognised and to be able to help our colleagues in some way as they as they prepare for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.”

Major Andy Lucas served during the last 2 YORKS deployment to Afghanistan and is behind the initiative.

He said: “Today is a follow up to a visit I made in June when I was immediately impressed by how calm the Operations Room was in response to handling multiple 999 calls.

“This is an important lesson that I want to convey to our team before we deploy and have to do this for real.

“Secondly, the Police have generously run a few realistic scenarios for us on their training suite, allowing some of our soldiers to act as dispatchers, co-ordinating multiple assets in response to a given incident and all of this whilst under similar pressure that they will experience on Ops”.

The training comes almost a year to the day since the force officially opened its extension to the force control room which is based at Fulford Road police station in York.

The new building, which cost over half a million pounds, now houses a bespoke control room training facility and tutorship room, and also provides a general ICT training suite for the force as a whole.

The IT facilities, which represent a £200,000 investment, have also been configured to provide an extra call centre facility for the force to use in times of extreme demand or crisis.

The building, funded through a £3 million investment announced by the Police and Crime Commissioner earlier last year, was built in just ten weeks.