999 calls diverted after glitch at M9 crash control room

MSPS have demanded answers from the Scottish Government after it emerged a troubled police control room was unable to take 999 calls for several hours after a “technical difficulty”.

Bilston Glen was unable to take 999 calls after a 'technical difficulty'. Picture:  TSPL
Bilston Glen was unable to take 999 calls after a 'technical difficulty'. Picture: TSPL

Both emergency and 101 calls to Bilston Glen had to be diverted to other Police Scotland control rooms yesterday morning due to the fault, which was later fixed.

Last month, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland identified a number of failings in the running of the Midlothian control room.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The report followed the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell, who died following a crash on the M9 in July.

Police failed to find their vehicle until three days after the crash because a call to Bilston Glen was not 
properly logged. Chief Superintendent Alan Speirs said: “I can confirm that in the early hours of Tuesday, the service centre at Bilston Glen experienced a technical difficulty which resulted in 999 and 101 calls being diverted to other regional service centres. The issue has now been resolved and the system is working normally.

“There was no interruption to the emergency and non emergency services and no delays in calls being answered or officers being dispatched.”

During the fault, the average time taken to answer 999 calls was five seconds and nine seconds for 101 non-emergency calls.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie called for an “urgent statement” from Scottish Government ministers about the latest fault.

He said: “The public must know how they can communicate with the police when the system is down.”

Labour’s justice spokesman, Graeme Pearson, added: “This news suggests a failure to learn the lessons of the HMICS report into call handling which exposed systemic, fundamental failings because of the SNP government’s botched reforms of our police service.

“SNP justice minister Michael Matheson can’t do his usual disappearing act here – he should immediately disclose when he knew about this, if it has ever happened before and if he was previously warned that there was a danger of this happening.”

Mr Matheson said: “I’ve been assured by Police Scotland that there was no interruption to emergency call services and that the system is now working normally.

“I’ve asked that the Scottish Government is kept fully updated on the situation.”