NOS News•today, 6:30 PM
editor Police and Justice
editor Police and Justice
The police are trying to tackle persistent staff shortages with dozens of new measures. Yesterday it emerged that the police are expected to have a shortage of around 1,500 employees for years to come.
One of the new measures is deploying students in the control room to answer 112 calls. This has recently started happening in Amsterdam and Utrecht.
The capacity problems there are so great that sometimes not all telephone calls can be answered immediately. “That gives every operator a stomach ache,” says Wieke Bosch, operational specialist at the control room in Utrecht.
The police therefore decided to offer students a part-time job in the Operational Center, as the control room is officially called. In Utrecht, nine students started training to become dispatchers in September. They have been officially employed since last week.
They have learned to quickly ask the most essential questions, such as what is going on and where exactly the caller is. Students must be at least second year and have a college or university degree. A study related to police work is not a requirement.
According to the police, the deployment of students does not come at the expense of the quality of the handling of 112 reports. “It involved a tough selection, which is comparable to all other colleagues who start here,” says Bosch.
The students were screened and had to take a psychological test, among other things. “We checked whether they are suitable and can handle the work. It is stressful and sometimes serious reports are received.”
25-year-old technical business administration student Louis Rondaij noticed this. In the few shifts he has worked in the control room so far, he has already received calls about a missing person, a woman who was pulled from her bicycle and about a man who was brandishing a knife.
As a student, he only does the ‘intake’, or taking the 112 call. The officers who respond to the report are managed by a ‘real’ operator. “While I’m on the phone with a citizen with an emergency, this colleague can direct police cars. That saves you a lot of time.”
The students are deployed at the busiest times, such as Friday and Saturday evenings. The police hope this will allow them to better handle the flow of calls.
The deployment of students in the control room is one of the many measures against the structural staff shortage. The police try to recruit as many new people as possible in all kinds of ways.
For example, agents who refer a new employee can earn a 1,000 euro bonus. Anyone who does not have a driver’s license can now also contact the police. From next year, police officers in training can obtain their driver’s license at the expense of the police.
The police also hope to be able to deploy about a thousand boas, for example in detainee care or to draw up official reports. They will be retrained as police assistants in the coming years.
The police are also trying to retain current staff longer. This should make it easier to change jobs within the organization, work more hours or stay for a while after retirement. A ‘stay bonus’ for those who remain loyal to the police is also being considered.
Ideal side job
Wieke Bosch of the Operational Center in Utrecht hopes that the new dispatchers will opt for a career in the police after their studies. “They have a two-year contract. The intention is to then see if they want to stay.”
For now, student Louis Rondaij thinks it is the ideal part-time job. “I can go to class during the day and join the control room in the evening.”
Although his business studies studies have nothing to do with police work, he has always had an affinity with the police. “I was already looking for a voluntary position and then this came my way. I thought: I have to do this. But I’m going to finish my studies first and then we’ll see.”