Police call handling

Independent HM Inspector reports on improvements.

An independent report detailing improvements to police call handling has been welcomed by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

The report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, follows an independent review of call handling systems directed by Mr Matheson in 2015.

The review resulted in 30 recommendations, all of which have been discharged. The Justice Secretary has updated Parliament that the work to improve the system has delivered:

  • A revised staffing model for police call handling, ensuring the service has the right number of people at the right time
  • An improved approach to training, ensuring staff have the skills needed to support the public, often in the most critical of circumstances
  • Improved stability of key IT systems
  • Controls to ensure Police Scotland maintains the highest standards, including the implementation of a “notable incidents” process which allows the service to learn from the few calls that haven’t been handled as they should have been.

The final report contains eight more recommendations, which aim to guide further improvements. 

Mr Matheson said:

“Every minute of every day police staff make vital decisions that safeguard the vulnerable. Following HM Inspectorate’s detailed review and recommendations, Police Scotland has undertaken far-reaching work to ensure call handling is effective and robust.

“As a result, Scotland now has an approach that will allow the public to experience the full benefits that come with a single, unified police service. 

“There is no room for complacency – and the reality is that call handling is a human activity and on rare occasions mistakes can and will occur. What is essential is that the risks are minimised and the impact of any such events is mitigated.

“Based on this independent assessment we can be confident police call handlers are well placed to support communities. I look forward to seeing how the service will continue to improve, and that is what we expect of Police Scotland going forward.”


A final copy of the HMICS report can be found here

The remit of the independent HMICS review covered:

  • The capacity of the systems and the human resource available in the control centres to manage, receive, answer and prioritise calls
  • The capability of the systems and the suitability of the training provided to those staff
  • The process within the control room to ensure all calls are handled and dispatched appropriately


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