This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Failure of the 999 System - August 2011'.




Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth/ Freedom of Information Unit 
 
 
 
Response Date:19/09/2011 
 
2011/432 – Miscellaneous – 999 System
 
 
In response to your recent request for information regarding;  
 
A letter published in the Wrexham Leader on the 18th of August reports a failure 
in both the 999 and non-emergency systems for contacting North Wales Police at 

around 9pm on the 8th of August 2011. A brief response from Chief 
Superintendent Neill Anderson of North Wales Police was published following the 
letter stating: "999 calls are filtered by BT ... [the] initial call should have been 

answered by their operators. The issues around the intercom link have been 
addressed". 

      
I would like to request the release of information relating to this failure and the 

response to it. 
      

I expect technical staff may have briefed Chief Superintendent Neill Anderson 
prior to him making his statement to the press. If this briefing was in writing I 
would like a copy of it released. 

 
Clarification was received that briefing could be defined as communication. 

 
Information was provided around the failure in relation to another matter, however, please 
see our response to Question 2.      
 
Could you please also release any formal or informal documents (reports, emails 
etc.) which have been written about this failure(or mode of failure). 
No information 
held regarding along with any details held of other times the problem occurred 
  
I would also be interested in any documents describing steps taken to ensure the 

problem does not recur. 
 
Concerns have been raised about releasing some of the details contained within the 
information requested. 
 
A Public Interest Test has been carried out to weigh up the reasons for and against 
disclosure of some of the details contained within the information requested, to ensure the 
release is in the interest of the public as a whole and not just the applicant.  
 
 
Evidence of Harm  
 
In relation to your request for formal or informal documents written about this failure, and 
documents describing steps taken to ensure the problem does not recur, harm has been 
identified in that if the information in relation to this request were to be released those with 
criminal intent would be in a position to map the capability of Police Control Rooms and 
make comparisons especially if further requests were made not just to North Wales Police, 
but to all other forces across the UK. 
Such an ability to map available resources would provide those with criminal intent with an 
advantage over UK forces as the information can be viewed as operationally sensitive. This 
could compromise law enforcement and public safety. 
 

 
Public Interest Considerations 

 
Sec. 31 (1)(a)(b)(c)   Law Enforcement  
Sec. 38 (1)   Health & Safety  
Sec, 40 (2) Personal Information 
 
Section 40 (2) Considerations 
Although the request does not ask for personal data the interests of third parties, could still 
be jeopardised by the release of information that could lead to their identification.  
 
This information would be considered as personal data of which you are not the subject and 
the information falls within paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of ‘data’ in Section 1(1) of 
the Data protection Act 1998 and disclosure of the information to a member of the public 
otherwise than under this act would contravene data protection principles. 
 
Section 40 is a class based exemption, therefore it is not necessary to evidence harm caused by 
disclosure. 
 
 
Section 31(1)(a)(b)(c) - (Law Enforcement)  
 
Considerations favouring disclosure  
Where public funds are being spent, there is a public interest in accountability and justifying 
the use of public money. For the Police service to be fully transparent and open, it is 
appreciated there is a public interest in providing information pertinent to matters of 
dissatisfaction with the force. 
 
Considerations favouring non-disclosure  
There remains the possibility that the current or future law enforcement role of the police 
service may be compromised by the release of the information requested. It can be argued 
that there are significant risks associated with providing information in relation to the 
capability of North Wales Police. 
 
To release the requested information into the public domain under the Freedom of 
Information Act is likely to have a detrimental effect on our capability (in addition to the 
national force capability if further requests were made to other forces). Policing resources 
and their role in protecting the public and in the prevention and detection of crime would be 
adversely effected should the information be used and manipulated by those with criminal 
intent to obtain an advantage over police resources. 
 
Section 38(1)(b)- (Health and Safety)  
 
Considerations Favouring disclosure  
The answer to this question relates directly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the 
Service. Disclosure would allow the police service to be more accountable, as it relates to 
how the force fulfils its role and function of using public funds. The community would also 
gain a greater awareness of this matter. 
 
Considerations Favouring Non-disclosure    
Disclosure of the relevant information could pose  significant risks to public safety. These 
risks are associated with providing information which relates to police force capability, since 
they may reveal the relative vulnerability of what we may be trying to protect. This in turn 
would place the public in a position of danger, should the police service need to counter the 
threat posed to force capability following an inappropriate disclosure of information which 
threatens public safety.  
 
To release the requested information into the public domain under the Act is likely to have a 
detrimental effect on policing resources. Policing resources and their protection role would 

be negatively effected should the information be used and manipulated by those with 
criminal intent to obtain an advantage over police resources. 
 
To provide additional resources to counter any occurrence of harm following FOI disclosure 
cannot be in the public interest.  
 
Balance Test  
 
When balancing the public interest test we have to consider whether the information should 
be released into the public domain.  Arguments need to be weighed against each other.  
The most persuasive reason for disclosure is Accountability which needs to be compared to 
the strongest negative reason.  The police service cannot and will not disclose information 
which will place the public at risk or undermine law enforcement thereby assisting those 
intent on committing crime. 
 
 
On balance, and from the harm evidenced above, the information should be protected and 
exemptions applied. Therefore a redacted document can be released, please find this 
attached. 
 
 
Therefore, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a 
Refusal Notice under section 17 (1) of the legislation. 
      
If you wish to release any related information, or make any comment (outside of 
the requirements of the FOI Act), to give reassurance 

that the problem has been properly investigated and addressed I 
would be happy to receive it. 

 
Please see attached redacted document. 
 
 
  THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST UNDER THE   
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000, AND IS CORRECT AS AT   08/09/2011 
 

From: Wareing, Darren (Ch Insp) 
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 04:17 PM 
To: Appleton, Sue 
Cc: Shaw, Simon (Ch Supt); Pierce, Mark (Ch Insp 1430); Anderson, Neill (Ch 
Supt); Shea, Paul 
 
Sue, 
 
The response will need to come from OSS please. 
 
I don't understand why there was no connect to BT for the 999 plus the brief 
should have been taken over the intercom in these circumstances, that is what it 
is there for. Staff should not be asking people to call 101 rather than use the 
intercom. 
 
Thanks 
 
 
From: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt) 
Sent: 12 August 2011 16:54 
To: Morgan, Richard A (Insp); Shea, Paul; Humphreys, Simon N (Ch Supt); 
Appleton, Sue 
 
Richard can we record this as dissatisfaction and have a supervisor from OSS 
explore the phone call details someone from LPS may wish to look at the other 
elements I think a call to the letter writer would also be appropriate at the 
earliest opportunity I would rather we exploored the issue directly with them 
rather than via the letters page in the local paper 
 
If someone could leave an update for me on monday please 
 
Thanks 
 
Neill 
 
 
From: Morgan, Richard A (Insp) 
Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 03:28 PM 
To: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt); Shea, Paul; Humphreys, Simon N (Ch Supt); 
Appleton, Sue 
 
 
Neill, 
 
I have looked into this and I am able to report the following action: 
 
1. The complainant, Katie Edwards completed a Dissatisfaction report online on 
the force web-site which was recorded on RMS on 12th August as a 
Dissatisfaction. RM11017581 refers.Call handling supervisor, Christine hughes 
sent an e-mail response providing an explanantion and apologising for the service 
provided the same day. 
 
2. The problem explerienced by Ms Edwards has two elements. The first is the 
inability to connect to NWP via the 999 system. This was not an NWP problem as 
the 999's go through to BT. It appears that due to the high volume of calls they 
were receiving during the disorder throughout London and some other cities that 
this most likely swamped the 999 facility resulting in the automated message she 

received from BT. The second element was the response received when she 
attended Wrexham Police Station  and used the intercom to report the incident. 
The actions of the call-handler receiving the initial intercom message, and the 
subsequent follow up 101 call was not in accordance with procedures.  
 
3. The call-taker was Megan Wyn Taff who is an agency staff member. Her 
supervisor is Christine Hughes and I have discussed this with Christine, clarified 
what course of action should be followed for such calls via intercom and 101 and 
she has personally given instruction to Megan on how to handle these calls in the 
future. Christine has also sent a reminder to all the call handlers reminding them 
about this procedure. 
 
4. I phoned Katie Edwards this afternoon and she understands and accepts the 
999 connect via BT was not something we had control over. I explained the 
procedure that should have been followed when she used the intercom and 
apologised for the service she received when the call handler did not follow this 
as she should have done. I explained that the call handler had been given 
personal instruction on handling any future calls of this nature, and that all call 
handling staff had been sent a reminder of the procedure. Ms Edwards was 
satisfied with the action taken and now considers the issue resolved. I thanked 
her for bringing this to our attention which we have used to improve our service 
delivery. 
 
5. I have endorsed the RMS occurrence with actions taken  
 
Regards 
 
Richard 
 
 
From: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt) 
Sent: 14 August 2011 22:18 
To: Morgan, Richard A (Insp); Shea, Paul; Humphreys, Simon N (Ch Supt) 
 
Richard many thanks for this complete response 
 
Much appreciated 
 
Paul can you speak to the press office re a response 
 
Thanks 
 
Neill 
 
 
From: Shea, Paul 
Sent: 15 August 2011 11:34 
To: Appleton, Sue 
 
Sue 
 
Neill has asked that i liaise with you regarding a response to this 
complaint/report. The complainant has been spoken to and is happy with the 
explaination, are we able to provide a response to the press in this case 
 
Paul 
 

From: Appleton, Sue 
Sent: 15 August 2011 11:50 
To: Shea, Paul 
 
Paul, 
 
How about something along these lines: 
 
Chief Superintendent Neill Anderson said: "This was an unusual situation, the 
majority of 999 calls are answered within ??? seconds. We have spoken to Ms 
Edwards and explained how the situation arose. 999 calls are filtered by BT and 
Ms Edwards' initial call should have been answered by their operators. The issues 
raised around the intercom link have been addressed." 
 
Regards, 
Sue 
 
 
From: Appleton, Sue 
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 09:22 AM 
To: Shea, Paul 
 
Hi Paul, 
Did you have any view on this? I need to get back to the Leader, Thanks, Sue 
 
 
From: Shea, Paul 
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 09:26 AM 
To: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt) 
 
Neill 
 
Are you happy with the below,  the average answer time is 1 second from 
connection by bt Paul 
 
 
From: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt) 
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 09:29 AM 
To: Shea, Paul 
 
 
Paul do we know if BT are aware and agree ! 
Don't want to get into a war of words with them if poss Will be in later Just off to 
dentist !! 
 
Neill 
 
 
From: Anderson, Neill (Ch Supt) 
Sent: 16 August 2011 09:38 
To: Appleton, Sue; Shea, Paul 
 
Sue tried to call 
 just realised Paul is off down south for a meeting today 
 

The below message is fine the average time we answer a 999 call in is one 
second and we answer over 90 percent of them in under 10 seconds We are 
always looking at ways to improve the service and will prioritise emergency calls 
  
Thanks 
 
Neill 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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