Memorial service for firefighters

Memorial Service at Westminster Cathedral for the two firefighters who died saving lives in a house fire earlier this year. Sitting in the Cathedral and listening to the family readings and memories was heartbreaking. Looking around at the hundreds of firefighters there to pay their respects to their colleagues and brothers who died really brought home, not just the sense of family loss and tragedy, but the true bravery and the reality of that loss.

I know, as we all know, that this is a risk of the job – but with 10 years without loss and with all of the safety measures the modern fire service now employ – we have forgotten the harsh reality and the dangers that still exist when brave firefighters put saving our lives before theirs.

It was a very beautiful, very sad and moving service.

Later in the afternoon, I had a briefing by senior Met officers on C3i. This is the new call system which will begin its proper roll-out in the Met in November. It’s been worked on for years and cost a fortune – but – if it delivers what it is meant to deliver – it should all have been worth it.

The new system will integrate the thirty-two borough police control rooms into one system, along with other services such as the police’s incident support centres. There are lots of other changes involved too – including an interpretation service for people making 999 calls who have poor English.

The integration should make deploying police resources easier and more effective. There is a bit of concern from borough commanders about their staff being deployed in other boroughs as the system uses the nearest cars to attend. I am sure that will be worked out.

On a personal level, as lead member for response in the MPA – and having been banging on about the Met’s failure to answer local, non-urgent calls – I was particularly glad to see that lots of this ‘customer service’ aspect appears to have been taken on board.

There will be a pathway for local calls to end up with local police – and if there is no answer, that call will go back to the operator until an answer is found for the caller. It’s not what I would call a Rolls Royce customer service – but at least it is in there. So phoning those 132 police stations across London and plonking the results showing that around 40% never answered the phone does seem to have a possibly positive outcome. Hurrah!