Staff are being moved out of a new West Midlands Police call centre installed at a cost of millions just four months after it opened.
Extensive building work at Lloyd House, the force’s headquarters, has led to the disruption, which has been described as ‘embarrassing’.
The civilian staff, who answer non-emergency calls at police HQ, are being told they will have to leave Lloyd House so that building work can be completed, the Post understands.
The call handlers are set be moved to Steelhouse Lane police station for more than 12 months, which will be sold off when the works are complete.
The force says it will be “cheaper and quicker” to complete works if they move and added that it would be “impossible” for staff to remain in the newly opened contact centre whilst the work goes on around them.
It means the refurbished call centre, which the force boasted was fitted out with “cutting-edge” telephony and IT technology, will remain untouched until the works are complete.
The call centre, along with another in the Black Country cost £3.2 million to launch.
The force insists that the move will not impact on the service and added that the two new contact centres, which replaced 10, had brought in year on year savings of £5.2 million.
The refurbishment of Lloyd House was announced last March by Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, along with the closures of police stations.
The landmark Grade Two listed Steelhouse Lane building, which was once described as being like a ‘mini prison’, is due to be sold off along with ones in Queens Road, Aston, and Belgrave Middleway, in Edgbaston.
Back office staff and staff from Steelhouse Lane will eventually move into the newly refurbished HQ, which will see capacity shoot up 60 per cent with staff asked to ‘hot desk’ and work at open plan workstations.
Insiders claim that they have been told that the police headquarters could be closed for at least 12 months whilst the refurbishment is ongoing.
One, who did not want to be named, said: “I know the force are very sensitive about this because the new operation was opened to great fanfare and it does not look too good that they are moving it after all that money has been spent. It could be seen as embarrassing for them.
“Controllers who are currently in Steelhouse Lane are being removed to Bournville to make room for the contact centre and quite a lot of money is going to be spent on Lloyd House.”
Richard Meffen, Temporary Assistant Director of Resources said: “The detailed delivery plan shows the level of disruption from the refurbishment will be significant and make working in Lloyd House impossible during this time.
“As a result, a recommendation has been made that the building needs to be empty before the end of July so that the work can begin. This proposal is currently being considered.
“If agreed this approach will be quicker and less expensive than undertaking the work with the building occupied.”
Chief Superintendent James Andronov, head of Force Contact, added: “There will be no further changes to the floor that Force Contact are already working on in Lloyd House.
“The changes made to the Force Contact Centre at HQ were made in line with the overall planned refurbishment and once building work is complete staff will return to their existing office space.
“The changes to Force Contact have resulted in £5.2 million of savings year-on-year.
“The move to a single model approach has meant the force can adopt a more consistent high quality service with the first available contact officer from either site able to help callers at the very first point of contact.
“The changes we will have made have allowed us to provide an even better service.”