A Suffolk Police supervisor has been shortlisted in the first national awards for emergency services’ control room staff.
Phil Quickenden, 37, is a civilian supervisor, currently acting manager, in Suffolk Police’s Martlesham Heath control room, which handles 999 and 101 calls from all over the county.
He is one of three people from across the UK nominated for the Leader of the Year Award in the APD Control Room Awards 2018.
The awards are backed by APD Communications, who make control room software and wanted ‘to recognise and celebrate the life-saving and life-changing work of staff in control rooms’.
Phil has worked for Suffolk Police for four years after 11 years in Thames Valley Police’s control room. He describes Suffolk as ‘a different kind of busy’ to Thames Valley with its large urban areas.
“We’ve got about a third of the staff and it’s much more varied,” he said. “You’re pro-actively moving units – if you move a unit from Mildenhall to Bury St Edmunds for something, you have to arrange back-cover. You can’t leave an area uncovered.”
He says it was a complete surprise to find he had been nominated for the award by Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton.
He has not seen the full nomination but says they have been going through a busy time with the change to a new phone system on top of their usual work.
He added: “I’m new to senior management. I’m responsible jointly with Chief Inspector Matt Rose for managing the day-to-day running of the control room.
“We’ve got 200 staff, from call handlers to the system team.
“It’s about making sure the control room is aware of everything going on – any ongoing operations, any target issues.
“It’s making sure the officers on the ground are getting the support they need and people making calls to us are getting the help they need.
“You have a lot of competing priorities against a background of tight budgets. You’re trying to make full use of limited resources and have to be creative with what you do – it’s very demanding.”
He proudly points out that the average time it takes for the control room to answer a call is 3.5 minutes, in spite of a 16 to 19 per cent increase in 999 calls.
“It can be relentless at times, “ he admits. “We’re aware of the importance of what we do and the impact it can have on people’s lives.”
Phil lives in Wickham Market with his wife Liz and sons Sam, five, and Josh, six.