12 August 2011


Between Monday 8th August and Thursday 11th August, 2,216 Specials performed 3,467 duties which summed up to over 23,912 hours of patrols, according to the 15 forces currently using DutySheet. But, how did the Police Forces mobilise all their Specials so quickly?

It’s fair to say, the recent riots have seen police forces under immense pressure when it comes to managing its resources. But thanks to DutySheet, the UK’s leading duty and performance management system, police forces were able to mobilise Specials more quickly and efficiently than ever.

DutySheet is used by a third of the police forces around England & Wales. Its main features include planning and organising of duties, advanced communication tools, large scale event management and performance analytics.

One of the most important tools on DutySheet is the Event Management module. This tool, which allows supervisors to instantly reach all their officers in at the touch of a button via SMS and email has proven to be a big hit and a necessity in times of national emergencies, as highlighted in the recent riots in London and other areas.

The integrated SMS solution allows officers to be called up on duty and they are able to reply back with an SMS, which automatically books them on duty. Tina Shelton, the NW Region Specials Coordinator said: “DutySheet has been an invaluable tool for us at GMP Silver Command over the past few days. We were able to resource, plan and co-ordinate not only the Specials within GMP swiftly and accurately, but, through the use of DutySheet our other forces in the region were able to advise on mutual aid requests. In addition to this, the Availability feature enabled officers to accurately inform us of their availability on an hour by hour basis, seven days ahead, highlighting how long it would take them to be ready to parade for duty when they were called in. Based on this data, we were able to mobilise over 100 Specials instantly and increase police resources to over 200 per night. DutySheet also allowed us to draft in non-operational officers to support non-front line duties such as custody duty.

Ben Hayes of DutySheet added: “Like the rest of the country, we were shocked with the violent disorder that was taking place across the country and we knew full well that DutySheet was going to play an important role over the next few days. In less than one day, approximately 3,000 Special Constables had provided their availability on an hour by hour basis for the next 5 days. That is 15,000 days of policing that was available to commanders at the touch of a button.”

Historically, most forces would rely on a pyramid scheme to mobilise their officers where one person would phone multiple people and those people would call further people and then, the responses would be fed up the pyramid to the commanders. This takes time. In this day and age of technology, Forces need to be able to mobilise their officers much more quickly and get a response instantly.

David Davies of DutySheet said that they are currently in talks with several forces to help them better manage the call out procedures for their PSU officers. “Although many forces are switching to an SMS based system for call outs, the responses are received via a mobile phone, meaning someone at Gold Command sifts through the received SMS messages, then maps out the officers availability.

DutySheet, however, has a skill based filtering system where officers with specific skills such as Evidence Gathering or PSU Level 1 could be contacted with an SMS and their responses are automatically processed by DutySheet, which allows supervisors to instantly see those officers who have responded.”

David added, “With DutySheet, we not only give the planning tools for Specials and managers, but we also provide extensive graphical reporting functionalities that allow supervisors to accurately view what their officers have done over a given time period.”

Robin Stockman, Special Inspector with Suffolk Constabulary commented, “As part of my role, I was working very closely with our Resource Management Unit throughout this week and they have been very impressed with DutySheet. However, managing an event isn’t all about just sending a call out to our officers. It is also about informing them of what is going on. Through the use of the communication tools available on DutySheet, such as the announcements page, we were able to instantly reach across to our officers and also email them through DutySheet. This meant that supervisors weren’t being swamped with telephone calls from their officers, asking for an update.

Our official go live date for DutySheet was 1st of August and one of the main reasons why we signed up to DutySheet was to be able to deal with major incidents effectively and efficiently. To have an event like this within a week of DutySheet going live and working so seamlessly just goes to show what a worthwhile investment it is for Suffolk Constabulary.”

The events of the past few days have stretched the resources of Police forces around the country, and they have had to call upon Special Constables to help them reassure the public by providing high visibility patrols. With Specials working full time jobs, the call-out procedures of many forces were tested to unprecedented levels. However, through the use of modern duty & performance management systems such as DutySheet, some forces found the whole task much easier and manageable, which sometimes is the difference between success and failure. 

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