South Yorkshire Police officers manning 999 phones due to staff cutbacks

SYP's Atlas Court
SYP's Atlas Court

South Yorkshire Police officers are having to answer 999 calls due to staff cuts, the force has confirmed.

Fifteen police officers have been taken off normal duties and sent to Atlas Court to work as call-handlers for up to ‘three months’.

Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles

Police Fedeartion chairman Neil Bowles

One police staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous, described officers being drafted in as ‘glorified receptionists’.

Call handlers were offered voluntary redundancy and officers have had to step in to fill the roles.

Neil Bowles, chairman of South Yorkshire Police Federation, said the situation was ‘not ideal’.

He said: “Again it’s all down to the cost and this has become a particular issue.

“A lot of the long-term call handlers have taken redundancy and have left and officers have had to be put in.

“Atlas Court has always had a high staff turnover due to the stresses of the particular post but this is definitely a backward step.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “We have had officers recently working in our call handling teams to provide some diagnostic information in relation to call demand, as well as to provide guidance and knowledge on some aspects of the law.

“We will continue to have officers based within Atlas Court in the coming three months, while recruitment and training for new call handlers takes place.

“This is a short term measure to cover for staff reductions following the recent voluntary redundancy process.

“Call handlers perform a vital role for the police force, dealing with a lot of the frontline demand and thereby reducing the demand on officers out on patrol, providing a quality service to the public in South Yorkshire.”

The spokeswoman added: “We are having to change the way we work, to redefine our approach in light of the challenges we face.

“Officers and staff have been affected by a number of changes, for example cuts to the force budget and the recent voluntary redundancy process for staff, but as a force we are working hard to try to minimise the impact of these changes.”