The Channel logo

back to article London fire brigade outsources 999 control centre to Capita

The London fire brigade is to outsource its 999 control centre to Capita. The deal will see Capita run the call centre on behalf of the brigade and also supply a new 999 control system. The 10-year agreement is expected to save the brigade £5m over its lifetime and is expected to go live later this year. Under the contract, …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

This doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. Now taking bets on when the new system starts messing up dispatch.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

No bets.....

When has privatization of a service actually improved the service?

How long until a call center in Mumbai starts being used? Confusion abound and lack of basic local knowledge causes incorrect dispatch!

17
0

When has privatization of a service actually improved the service?

... or saved money?

10
0
FAIL

Actual conversation with Roadside Assistance Company

Leaving out all the 'pardon' and 'I cannot understand, can you say it again'

Him - (Said in almost unintelligible Indian accent) Hello. How may I help you?

Me - My car has a puncture and I cannot undo the bolts. Can you send someone please?

Him - Certainly. What is your postcode?

Me - Um. Don't know. I'm on the hard shoulder of the motorway.

Him - Can you knock on someones door to find out the post code?

Me - No. I'm on the Motorway. There are no houses on a motorway.

Him - Ok, can you see a streetname?

Me - Errr. No. I'm on the M3 motorway.

Him - Can you go to the end of the street and see if you can see a name?

Me - Errr. No. I'm on a motorway. It doesn't have street names. Its called the M3. I'm on the M3 southbound just past junction 6.

Him - ........Can you spell M3 please?

7
0
Silver badge

"The 10-year agreement is expected to save the brigade £5m over its lifetime and is expected to go live later this year."

I think the suitable metric is how many lives are saved not a mere 500k per year that is probably an over-optimistic estimate anyhow. Will the calls be picked up in the UK or India?

2
0
Childcatcher

Offshore'd?

I think a law should be put in place so that emergency service "call centres" should remain on the mainland and staffed by english speaking individuals you can actually understand, thereby not following the model by a lot of banks, ISP's, utility companies etc.

My two cents.

17
0
Silver badge

Re: Offshore'd?

The call centre will be UK, but the engines will be dispatched from the Dehil depot for tax reasons.

And you will have to pay their road toll bill when they arrive.

2
0

Re: Offshore'd?

> english speaking individuals you can actually understand

The last time I phoned $telcom_provider, after the 5 levels of menus needed to reach a human, the guy started by telling me that he was in Coventry. He also proved easy to understand and was certainly a native English speaker.

Unfortunately, EVERYTHING THAT HE TOLD ME WAS WRONG. Diametrically opposed to the correct answers.

So no, a UK call centre doesn't solve all the problems by a long way.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

London's Burning

"I'm sorry, we are currently experiencing very high call volumes. Your call has been placed in a queue and will be dealt with by one of our offshore customer service agents as soon as possible. Your call is important to us, and we thank you for your patience."

...and when you finally get through...

"Our current lead time for dispatching a fire engine in your area is approximately 2 days. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause."

Not, you understand, because of London's fire fighters - but because Capita really are that crap, and would someone manage to introduce a lead time to breathing if they could figure out how.

11
0
Silver badge
Stop

Londons Burning, Fetch the Engines... Fire Fire... Please hold...

"Your call is important to us, we are sorry for the delay.."

What a load of nonsense! we must stop this... I hope the person who signs the order is one of the people held responsible when someone dies due to this decision!

And lets be honest, privatizing a service is bound to lead to lower quality, forget saving a pitiful 5million, i'd rather save lives!

11
0
Coat

Meh...

There are too many Londoners anyway

Mine's got a yellow waistcoat...

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Meh...

Lincolnshire Police have already outsourced their control room to G4:

http://thelincolnite.co.uk/2012/02/lincolnshire-police-sign-200m-outsourcing-contract-g4s/

They are hoping to get some sort of kickback from G4 if other forces sign up, for the training and startup benefits G4 will learn from Nettleham. [1]

[1] is putting a kettle on so very difficult?

0
0
Silver badge

Even if they don't offshore it...

...do you really want emergency calls and dispatch decisions being handled by minimum-wage call centre drones like the rest of Capita uses?

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Even if they don't offshore it...

Not just the drones, the managers are paid little more.

1
0
Silver badge

Anyone for another great fire of london?

Glad I don't live in London right now.

4
0
Silver badge

Whenever I need to explain why privatisation is a bad idea...

...and I don't want to use the US, because they are in a comparatively large an unpopulated area, I turn to the UK. With London apparently wasting more water than both Berlin and Hamburg combined need, and the inability to get even a simple ISDN phone line in some parts, I simply cannot understand why anybody there would think privatisation is a good idea.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Whenever I need to explain why privatisation is a bad idea...

"I simply cannot understand why anybody there would think privatisation is a good idea."

Probably because we've been conditioned by experience to believe that the Government is far worse. The problem is more one of "why privatise instead of just kicking some civil service arses until things improve", as the private sector can waste just as much money but add a profit margin on top.

2
0
Stop

The cost of living...

"The 10-year agreement is expected to save the brigade £5m over its lifetime and is expected to go live later this year."

On their own figures this scheme will "save" half a million a year. That is apparently the going rate for two dinners with David Cameron, and a trivial sum compared to what will be spent on lawyers the first time this goes wrong.

There's more to life than money folks.

7
0

Re: The cost of living...

damn, I thought I'd be the first to make that observation/quip about Dave's dinners (takes hat off in deference)

I love the phrase "expected to save" where in reality it'll cost 5x that more and that'll exclude the litigation.

bastards!

3
0

Totally ridiculous

Somebody, somewhere is making a lot of money from this and will not be around in a couple of years to be held accountable when the whole thing is a disaster. I totally dispair at the people who allow these sort of things to happen.

10
0
Bronze badge
Happy

0118 999 881 999 119 7253

Catchy number though.

7
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: 0118 999 881 999 119 7253

Dear sir stroke madam. Fire, exclamation mark. Fire, exclamation mark. Help me, exclamation mark. Look forward to hearing from you

1
0
Anonymous Coward

I thought all the 999 services were paid for by our council tax, whats the point of paying the crap if your not receiving appropriate service for your funds.

3
0
Silver badge
Joke

Maybe

Cameron is planning to destroy half of London in a massive insurance fraud. Might let us pay for the Olympics. Well, some of it anyway.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Reading Between The Lines

"According to the London fire brigade, the contract will allow the service to focus on its core business of putting out fires and saving lives."

Or "the contract will allow" the management to get practice of placing and running external contracts with a view to their future employment opportunities.

4
0
WTF?

Re: Reading Between The Lines

Love how they imply that the LFB is actually a business that is supposed to turn a profit.

Wonder if the contract has bonuses for the amount of calls answered and fires put out. I can easily see Crapita heavies wandering around town sucking between their teeth and loudly proclaiming that the building is a firetrap!

4
0
Flame

I wonder...

...if Crapita are being paid per call? Surely the LFB wouldn't have signed a contract giving them more money the more fires there are....would they?

3
0
Devil

Re: I wonder...

No, they just have access to the call data.

"Hello. I am calling from FireEngineChasers dot com, I believe you had a chip-pan fire a few days ago. Had you considered suing the hell out of making a claim against the pan manufacturer , cooker supplier and potato growers, all on a no-win-no-fee basis..."

"We also have some special offers on take-away meals..."

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Next service improvement

The London Fire Corporation will allow for a tiered service. Pay more for a faster, 'guaranteed' response time.

3
0
Silver badge

How this will go

"999 Emergency, which service please?"

"Fire"

"This is the fire service, your call may be recorded to help improve our service to you. Please listen to the following options: Press 1 if you are a member of out Conflagration Super-Savers Club, Press 2 if you wish to friend us on Facebook, Press 3 to hear our latest offers, Press 4 for billing information, Press 5 if you or a family member are currently burning to death"

"5"

"So you are burning to death. Press 1 if you can pay by credit card, Press 2 to speak to a colleague"

"2"

"Hello, I will be your advisor today. What is your problem?"

"Oh dear god help us! The house is on fire and the babies are stuck on the top floor. HELP US!"

"Please do not shout at me, or I will cancel this call and report you to the police for verbal abuse. What is your problem?"

"Our house is on fire."

"OK, you house is on fire. Have you tried turning the house on and off?"

"No...I can't turn the fire off. If I could, I wouldn't need to call. My babies are burning!"

"I've warned you before, do not shout at me. We are following a specially design script that has been proven to increase our sales. Now, what version of fire do you have?"

"That question makes no sense. Just send a fire engine already."

"Ok, you cannot turn the fire off and do not know what version. How do you intend to pay for the call out?"

"Pay?"

"Yes, we don't have your phone number as a registered account. How you wish to pay for the home visit from our engineers?"

"What? Look, this is an emergency. People are dying."

"I appreciate that this is a stressful time for you, but our engineers are highly trained and will resolve your issue as quickly as they can. Can you pay by credit card."

"Ok, debit, 123456789, expires 01/2014"

"Thank you, I have entered your support request into the system. An engineer will be with you within 48 hours. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"...."

20
0
Thumb Up

Re: How this will go

You forgot....

*Scratchy Hold Music*

"Did you know that you can now log in and report a fire via our website www.helpmyhouseisburningdown.com. Log on now to receive a 10% discount on your next emergency call out..."

Also after reporting the fire, the obligatory:

"Would you be interested in filling out a customer satisfaction survey..."

"No thanks, I have to go save our pet cat..."

"It will only take 2 minutes and you will be entered into our free prize draw..." *Click*

2
0
Mushroom

Oh Hell no!

Least with the other contracts its not life threatening when they botch it up. Irritating as hell but not life threatening.

Fire service always seems to be on the receiving end of all the bad ideas(tm)

4
0
Silver badge
Go

Obligatory Simpsons

Hello, and welcome to the Springfield Police Department Resc-u-Fone.  If you know the name of the felony being committed, press one.  To choose from a list of felonies, press two.  If you are being murdered or calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line.

You have selected regicide.  If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one...

3
0

New number

0999, calls cost £42/sec and you are put on hold for 12minutes.

5
0
Facepalm

So how long until the first cock up? How long until the cost overun's wipe out the so called 5 million savings? I could go on but it's a Monday and that in itself is depressing enough.

Facepalm coz well...there is no gun to the head icon.

3
0
Stop

I do not approve of this.

But if they use Billy Joel for the hold music, it will go a small way toward making up for it.

3
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Pint

Re: I do not approve of this.

The ONLY appropriate hold music is Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire'.

Beer since there's no wine glass, and it's wine o'clock somewhere...

1
0

Mmmm, of course the initial contract may save 5million I bet £1 against 10 that there will be "spec" changes that mean that capita will recoup the rest plus about 5 times what it costs now.

Civil servant 1 : Ok budget time, how many fires did we dealt with in the last financial quarter?

Civil servant 2 : erm, we don't know. I will ask capita for a report.

---------

Civil servant 2 : we need to know how many fires we dealt with in the last financial quarter.

Capita sales demon : bwuhahahaha!

The problem with outsourcing is that a lot of senior managers underestimate just how flexible their actual workforce is and tht just scripting out the simple bit that they think their workforce do rarely equates to what they actually do.

4
0

I don't understand

This will save money...

They are transferring the staff.

Bob is getting £X/hour from LFB for the job.

Bob is getting moved to Capita, presumably under similar pay (a drastic pay cut would lead to much employment law deabte)

LFB have to pay Capita for the service provided.

Due to this extra tier, LFB would need to pay more, since they are indirectly paying Bob £Y/hour, and Capita are needing to make some markup on this as well.

I can't understand how this saves money.

7
0
Mushroom

Re: I don't understand

not to mention Bob is probably classed as a public servant so gets a nice pension/strong union backing. then is transferred to capita (i'd imagine ditching the council "perks" is where the money is saved) and after a year or two fired for some made up reason so they can employ one of their existing minimum wage drones in his place

2
0
Anonymous Coward

cost saving?

IMHO....Outsourcing in general cuts PAYE / NI tax income for the gov as the workers are abroad and pay their gov taxes, or are on considerably lower salary rate in the UK. And thus, less money coming into the exchequer means we all have to pay more in higher taxes to cover the losses.

Now, if capita are also the same people that supply the security for jobcenters then they will have 3 x the operators for the phones as the job centers I have been working in recently had at least 7 security prowling around the office all looking bored.

0
0
WTF?

What I cant Understand...

Is how come runnning it inhouse is so much more expensive than outsourcing it when you will be using the same staff? How exactly are they saving the moeny and why cant the LFB just copy what they do and implement it themselves?

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What I cant Understand...

It works because the management are deliberately awkward to the existing staff to make them leave soon. They are then replaced with cheaper personnel.

I've seen that happen more than once. Actually, with Perot Systems, in the very first meeting with management they came out and said (quote): "We don't like contractors," and they planned to get rid of the existing team as soon as possible. They were bussing their own people from Nottingham to Berkshire to work for the week, then bussing them back to their families for the weekend.

That was fine. With no job prospects, my rates rose by £20/hour that day. :D

Permies are less lucky.

0
0

Average terrorism

I'm trying to think of a worse idea than letting Capita run a life-critical system and the only thing I can think of is letting them run two...

Even the most "successful" terrorist groups have only killed about 50 people in a single day, when, not if the systems of the LFB stop working from an "unexpected" event, we will see casualties in that order.

But of course it isn't "unexpected", is it....

Doesn't anyone else notice that government IT suppliers are rarely chosen by companies who have a free choice ?

6
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: Average terrorism

> Even the most "successful" terrorist groups have only killed

Perhaps that's the answer.

We need to convince Al-Qaeda to outsource their terrorism to Crapita. Within 5 years, they'll be too skint to try anytihng new, and the atrocity rate will have dropped to something negligible...

Vic.

2
0
Silver badge

Oh goody

I feel safer already.

But that's because I live 50 miles away from London.

0
1

WE'RE ALL GOING TO BURN!!!!

Nuf sed!

1
0
Silver badge
Go

OMG

I think Im going to attempt defend LFB and Crapita.

Outsourcing *can* work. Here's my hypothetical scenario how it can happen.

1. Service and employees outsourced. Employee's under TUPE so little saving made there.

2. Service reviewed for unnecessary bureaucracy that was not written into outsourcing contract. Being public sector there is probably some. (Hey there is in private sector too)

3. Rebuild service without bureaucracy - save money.

Half a million quid a year in waste in current LFB procedures I can see that. ITs just over 10%.

Chances of this being actually what happens 0% (I did say attempt)

1
1
Vic
Silver badge

Re: OMG

> Outsourcing *can* work

...Yet there seem to be far fewer instances of it working than there are instances of it failing spectacularly...

> unnecessary bureaucracy that was not written into outsourcing contract.

One man's " unnecessary bureaucracy" is another's "traceability" and another's "flexibility".

The days of having vast amounts of fat to be trimmed are long gone. These days, attempts to do that usually imply that management haven't understood what the workforce is actually doing. They make a small short-term saving, then substantials parts of the business collapse because what was trimmed wasn't actually nugatory after all.

> ITs just over 10%.

Half a million quid a year is actually somewhat less than 6% of the £9M/year cost. That seems like a rather small return for such an enormous risk.

Vic.

2
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Opinion

frustration_anger_irritation_annoyance pain

Felipe Costa

Pressure to perform for stock market bearing down on disties
Columns of coins in the cloud

Michael Cote

Anything that simple to use has got to be complex to set up
Internet of Things

Gavin Clarke

This time, Larry's Oracle is going after the networking giants

Features

No email? No CRM? No Daily Mail iPad edition? You need a plan
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
Failure to crack next-gen semiconductors threatens to set back humanity
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club