No. 3 PAGE No. 10

Planning of Police Communications
July 1933

In our last issue the general features of the Ericsson Police-Telephone System were described in a brief way, and it may now be useful if some consideration be given to factors which have to be taken into account in planning for application of the system to a police area.

In the first place we wish to clear up a misapprehension which appears to exist in some quarters. The adoption of the Ericsson police-telephone system does not replace the “box system,” but rather renders it much more efficient than when worked with an ordinary telephone system, as is the practice in many areas to-day. On the other hand, the employment of the Ericsson police-telephone system in an area not having the box system does not involve the introduction of the latter.

Compared with ordinary telephone systems the Ericsson system offers many advantageous facilities, and where properly applied to an area it affords some useful economies in annual expenditure.

In order that the fullest benefits may be reaped from its adoption, a careful study of the police area is essential, and for this purpose Ericsson Telephones Limited offer, to interested chief constables, the free services of an expert in police communication matters so that the most efficient scheme may be planned and the greatest economy effected.

In planning an installation, the first requirement is that the nature of the Ericsson system and the facilities it affords should be fully understood. This is best attained by inspection of one of the installations already in operation in the service of a Police Authority. At the time of going to press, installations are already in use at many centres including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Blackburn, St. Helens, Seaforth, etc. Alternatively, a demonstration equipment may be inspected at the Ericsson Works at Beeston, near Nottingham. Thereafter, an ordnance survey map of the police area, on a scale of six inches to the mile, should be obtained, and the most effective distribution of telephone communication points plotted on it. At this stage it should be considered whether any existing police stations can be dispensed with as a result of the provision of efficient wire communications, as the economies thereby effected are usually of considerable proportions. in this connection it is interesting to note what has been achieved at Edinburgh, as mentioned in the article following.

In plotting the telephone communication points, special regard should be paid to making it easy for the general public to get into quick touch with the police station. If this is given its due weight there will be a definite end to the old-time reproach that
a policeman is never there when he is wanted.” Too much attention appears to be attached, at present, to disposing the telephone equipments on sites selected purely from considerations of the control and direction of the beat officers from the police station. Such considerations are, of course, essential, but it is of equal importance that information, which is the beginning of all police action, should be easily and rapidly acquired, and this cannot be fully achieved if the person with information to impart is under the necessity of first knowing where to find a police telephone and then having to travel perhaps half a mile to make use of it.

The speedy collection and distribution of information is the basis of all effective police attack on crime, and the day is not
far distant when it will be regarded as essential that a police communication point should exist at practically every street corner.

Communication on a basis of one box per beat, as is general at present is definitely wasteful and inefficient. The cost of police boxes varies within the wide limits of £25 to £100 or £150, and for such sums, telephone points in the form of street pillars (as shown above) can be greatly increased in density, and communication efficiency thereby improved. We commend to the consideration of chief constables, who are planning to use “box system” working, the employment of section boxes rather than beat boxes, and, with the savings thereby effected, the provision of a greater number of communication points may be achieved.

When the question of the disposition of the telephone points has been settled, there must then be determined the grouping of the various points to be worked on each party line. This is of the utmost importance as it is the annual rental for the line wires that weighs most heavily in the costs of police communications. in this matter our police communications experts can be of some assistance, and we would press chief constables to call upon our services in this connection in the earliest stages of consideration of any scheme.

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Last revised: February 18, 2003