The South Wales Tri-Service Public Service and Joint Emergency Control Centre: an evaluation
This study involves a multi-method evaluation of the development of a Tri-Service Public Service and Joint Emergency Control Centre in South Wales.
South Wales Police (SWP) have identified that the lack of a ‘joined up’ approach to emergency service provision is resulting in inefficiency and a poor response service to the public. The force have already developed a single, highly efficient Public Contact Centre with modern technology and the two Fire and Rescue Services across the force area (FRSs) have committed to similarly rationalise their contact centres and co-locate with SWP on a shared technology and infrastructure platform.
The All Wales Ambulance Service (WAST) has also made a request to become part of the largest single Tri-Service Centre in Wales with over 200 contact stations under a single open plan environment, working side-by-side to deliver an integrated emergency response to the public and a 101 non-emergency service.
The award of a grant from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund has allowed the development of an extension on the existing SWP headquarters, creating a highly cost-effective solution for a single, open-plan environment in which to locate the Tri-Service Centre. Annual efficiency savings of at least £2m are anticipated for the partners and the shared running costs will contribute towards the challenging Value for Money plan savings required over the medium term.
Further interoperability savings come from a shared command structure, sharing intelligence and responding better to calls for services at the frontline, as well as rationalised supervisory and management structures, and reducing wasted police officer time from delayed ambulance deployments and fire service support requests. Whilst a number of forces have developed a shared premises approach to reduce costs, this model will focus on the integration of staff, sharing of computer systems and delivery of a fully functioning 999 emergency and 101/111 non-emergency blue light service.
The evaluation of the project will commence with the mapping of a Theory of Change model in order to fully define the strategic picture of how it is anticipated it will achieve its long-term goal (Taplin and Clark, 2012; Harris, 2005; Rogers, 2005). Notwithstanding the findings from this initial aspect of the evaluation process, it is anticipated that the substantive evaluation will focus upon four key areas where positive outcomes might be anticipated:
- an evaluation of financial efficiency savings
- an evaluation of response categorisation and deployment
- an evaluation of public outcomes
- an evaluation of the implementation process.
In seeking to deliver these aims, the research will make use of a combination of financial and administrative data from each of service providers, secondary analysis of existing deployment and public satisfaction data from each of service providers, and primary quantitative and qualitative data on public and practitioner response to implementation and outcomes.