A controversial police call-handling centre that has been the subject of a series of internal investigations into major failings has reportedly been taking calls from other UK forces, despite concerns over staff workloads.
Bilston Glen call centre has been linked to at least three deaths since it took over responsibility for the east command area after centres in Glenrothes and Stirling were closed in 2014.
The centre is now believed to be taking extra emer- gency calls from both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Metropolitan Police.
The Mail on Sunday said a source had revealed that a recent “surge” in calls, particularly from the Met, had pushed staff “beyond any reasonable limits”.
The claim follows a series of high-profile errors by the centre which led to the deaths of three people in a year.
John Yuill and partner Lamara Bell died after their car careered off the M9 in July 2015. However, it took three days for the vehicle to be retrieved after a mistake in processing the information.
Mr Yuill died at the scene but Miss Bell, who had been trapped in the crash, was still alive when officers arrived. She later died in hospital from kidney failure caused by dehydration after spending 72 hours in the wreck.
In March 2016, Asperger’s sufferer Andrew Bow was found dead in his Edinburgh flat more than a week after calls to the centre from concerned neighbours.
Police Scotland have been the subject of 150 investigations by the Police Investigation and Review Commission since forces were merged in 2013, with 26 probes currently ongoing.
At peak or busy times, calls from one part of the country can be picked up by other centres. However, the service has since been extended UK-wide as part of an agreement between forces.
Police Scotland said: “This is simply about the ability of fully trained call handlers to deal with people calling the emergency services. It only happens when we have the capacity to deal with it.”
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council told the newspaper: “While all forces would ideally want to deal with every call directly, we have to factor in contingencies for periods of exceptional demand.”