Review of the early implementation of Police Scotland’s Contact Assessment Model

31 October 2019

A review of the early implementation of a new approach to managing calls for police assistance has found that a better quality assessment of callers’ individual circumstances is carried out, and the assessment is more likely to result in a policing response that best meets callers’ needs. However, there remain opportunities to learn from the service’s early experience of the Contact Assessment Model (CAM) and to maximise its success.

CAM is a new means by which Police Scotland will manage requests for police assistance made by the public and other agencies. Calls to 999 and 101 will be assessed by service advisors for Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigative opportunity, Vulnerability and the Engagement required to resolve the issue (THRIVE). The THRIVE assessment will help Police Scotland to choose the most appropriate policing response whether it be immediate, prompt, a local policing appointment or other resolution (which may include advice being given, a crime report being taken over the phone or signposting to a more appropriate agency). CAM replaces Police Scotland’s previous approach which relied on policies, standard operating procedures and the default prioritisation of calls which dictated how police would respond.

HMICS reviewed how CAM is being implemented in Phase 1, which began on 12 June 2019 and involved CAM being applied to calls received from two local policing divisions (Dumfries and Galloway and Lanarkshire). It has published a briefing paper setting out its findings. HMICS reviewed how CAM is working in Police Scotland’s Contact, Command and Control Division (C3), which receives and manages calls for police assistance, as well as in the two local divisions.

HMICS audited a sample of calls made from Dumfries and Galloway and Lanarkshire and found that the vast majority of people who contact the police receive an effective service, their calls are dealt with professionally and an appropriate policing response is provided.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, Gill Imery QPM, said, ‘We support Police Scotland’s adoption of the THRIVE assessment tool, which addresses a recommendation we made in our 2015 review of call handling. As CAM is rolled out across Scotland, there is scope for Police Scotland to consider how a national model such as CAM can be tailored further to suit local needs and expectations.’

Policing is often used by the public and other agencies as the service of last resort. One aim of CAM is to improve the service being delivered to the public by signposting callers to other agencies that may be better placed to provide support. Police Scotland has carried out extensive engagement with national and local partners prior to implementing CAM, but HMICS considers there is greater scope for all partners to work together to ensure that members of the public receive the support they need, when they need it.

A key aim of CAM is to improve the management of demand, and Police Scotland expects the new approach to result in productivity gains. However, Mrs Imery cautioned against the new approach being used as a means to reduce police resources saying that consideration should first be given to reinvesting any gains in improving the quality of the policing service.

The HMICS review was not a full inspection of CAM, but rather an assessment of Phase 1 of its implementation. It was carried out within three months of CAM commencing and several issues that arose during our work have already been identified by Police Scotland and work is underway to address them.

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