5th December 2019
REVISED RESPONSE Freedom of Information Request Reference No: FOI 003222/19
I write in connection with your request for information received by Norfolk Constabulary on the 5th
September 2019 in which you sought access to the following information:
With reference to various social media posts that have been made recently, I would like
some information about your use and promotion of the What3Words system.
Has the "What3Words" system been integrated in any way with the systems that
your emergency call handlers use? If so, please provide some basic details of what
Are there any financial costs to the police associated with any integration above, or
the ongoing use of the What3Words system? If so, please provide a rough guide to
the costs involved as both one-off and ongoing payments. (The number of digits in
the amount in pounds would suffice here.)
Has there been any other agreement (either formal or informal) between the
constabulary and What3Words, whereby the police will provide any non-monetary
consideration, such as agreeing to publicise or promote the system?
Prior to deciding to use and promote What3Words for emergency use, what
evaluation of other systems (e.g. lan/lon, OS Grid references, Mapcodes, Open
Location Codes, or AML/ELS) was carried out or reviewed? In particular, was any
analysis done as to the effectiveness of conveying a What3Words location versus
an OS grid reference over a poor phone line, and how one or other parties being
non-native English speakers might affect things?
Do your control room staff have access to AML/ELS location data (see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Mobile_Location) from smartphones, and
how is this information available to them? Is this available from all 999, 911 and 112
calls made from compatible smartphones? If not, why not?
Please provide a copy of any Guidelines or Standard Operating Procedures for
control room staff who need to find the location of a caller on a mobile phone. Are
staff able to interpret OS Grid references and/or Open Location Codes if the caller
In the case described at https://twitter.com/skipptg/status/1165928846702579712 ,
which was recently retweeted by the Norwich Police twitter account, can you
confirm that the incident happened as described, and explain why an AML/ELS
location was not available from the original call?
Response to your Request
The response provided below is correct as of 12th September 2019.
Norfolk Constabulary has considered your request and our response is below:-
The facility to use an Application Programme Interface (API) is available for free from
what3words. This has been utilised within the Constabulary’s Computer Aided Dispatch
(CAD) system which is maintained by the ICT Department. This allows the function to
validate a location on an incident using the what3words location and we can also search
and view the locations on the CAD mapping system.
The API is free of charge and requires no maintenance. It was installed as part of routine
updates. The Constabulary has an existing agreement with Sopra Steria, who supplies the
CAD system, with regard to software updates.
We have a written agreement with what3words regarding the use of the application on force
devices, to comply with relevant Information Standards. We do not have any agreement in
place relating to providing publicity or promotion of the system.
No evaluation or analysis of other systems was conducted, therefore no information is held.
Smartphone technology is not available to Control Room Operators. No information is held
in relation to the reasons for this.
There are many reasons why a Control Room Operator may need to find the location of a
caller on a mobile phone. For example, a missing person or an abandoned call. The
original response included a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on ‘999 & Other Calls –
Abandoned, Accidental, Nuisance & Silent’. The SOP provided a narrative box that stated
‘Consider Immediate subscriber check through CCR Supervisor & ‘Golden Hour’ checks.
The training provided to Control Room Operators is, in these circumstances, to contact the
Duty Control Room Inspector.
In relation to the second part of the question, the response is Yes, staff are able to interpret
OS Grid references and/or Open Location Codes, if the caller provides these.
This was retweeted by the Norwich Police twitter account.
Searches have been undertaken to locate the incident. It cannot be guaranteed but a CAD
was located which best fits the description, IE a motorcycle road traffic collision in a rural
location using what3words to identify the location. The incident identified, happened as
described in the tweet.
No information is held. The Control Room received a call from the Ambulance Service and
not the motorcyclist direct.
This response will be published on the Constabulary’s web-site under the Freedom of Information
Should you have any further queries concerning this request, please contact Amanda Gibson, FOI
Decision Maker, quoting the reference number shown above.
A full copy of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) can be viewed on the ‘Office of Public Sector
Norfolk Constabulary is not responsible for the content, or the reliability, of the website referenced.
The Constabulary cannot guarantee that this link will work all of the time, and we have no control
over the availability of the linked pages.
Your Right to Request a Review of Decisions Made Under the Terms of the
Freedom of Information Act (2000).
If you are unhappy with how your request has been handled, or if you think the decision is
incorrect, you have the right to ask Norfolk Constabulary to review their decision.
Ask Norfolk Constabulary to look at the decision again.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by Norfolk Constabulary under the Freedom of
Information Act (2000), regarding access to information, you must notify Norfolk Constabulary that
you are requesting a review within 40 days of the date of its response to your Freedom of
Requests for a review should be made in writing and addressed to:
Freedom of Information Decision Maker
Information Management Department
Operations and Communications Centre
Norfolk NR18 0WW
In all possible circumstances Norfolk Constabulary will aim to respond to your request for us to
look at our decision again within 20 working days of receipt of your request for an internal review.
The Information Commissioner.
After lodging a request for a review with Norfolk Constabulary, if you are still dissatisfied with the
decision, you can apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision on whether the request for
information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Act.
For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner please visit their
website at www.ico.org.uk
or contact them at the address shown below:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone: 01625 545 700