G4S call centre staff made 'test' 999 calls to hit performance targets

Outsourced staffers in Lincolnshire control room were formerly police employees

Five former Lincolnshire police employees have been suspended today from their jobs at G4S after allegedly calling 999 during quiet periods to improve their performance ratings.

It has been alleged that the staff made more than 600 "test calls" to 999 for the purposes of improving their performance ratings, which The Guardian reported include "answering 92 per cent of calls within 10 seconds or less."

The suspended staff were formerly employed by the police force, but all transferred to G4S four years ago when the extraordinarily controversial outsourcer won a £200m contract to run the plod's back office services.

G4S confirmed to The Register that it "has been cooperating with an investigation by Lincolnshire Police into allegations that members of staff in the force control room made repeated 999 'test calls' at quiet times to improve perceived overall call handling performance."

The company claimed to us that "Data shows that at no point did these calls put members of the public or other front-line police officers and their staff at risk. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has also reviewed the evidence and has determined there are no grounds to pursue a criminal prosecution."

This data, which was seen by The Guardian, reportedly shows that "between January and September last year the number of 999 calls made to test the equipment were running at an average of 30-40 a month and as few as eight in September."

In October, however, the number rose to 139, and then to 236 in November, before reaching its highest at 349 in December. According to The Guardian: "The figures show that without the extra test calls the control room would have missed its target of answering 92% of calls within 10 seconds in November and December."

The 349 test calls of the 8,153 total that were received in December raised the office's 89 per cent target to 93 per cent. The five suspended officers are believed to include the control room manager.

According to The Guardian, G4S has claimed the contract saves Lincolnshire police £6m a year and has "hailed it as a potential model for the rest of British policing."

An investigation into this mischief began in January after Lincolnshire Police's anti-corruption unit "received an internal allegation that staff within the control room were calling 999 at quiet times to ensure calls were picked up quickly to improve perceived performance," reported The Guardian.

“There is no place for anyone in our organisation who behaves in this way and their actions undermine the commitment and the good work of their colleagues.” said John Shaw, managing director for G4S public services. ®

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