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Wanted by police, Polish speakers to answer 999 calls

Wanted by police, Polish speakers to answer 999 calls

A police force is advertising for Polish speakers to answer 999 calls in an effort to cope with the influx of migrants who cannot speak English.

Thames Valley Police said it had recently seen a 'sharp rise' in the number of Polish callers.

At present, foreign language callers have to wait until an interpreter becomes free - which can cause confusion and waste vital time.

Graham Brown, of Thames Valley Police, said: "We have 240 staff at the centres and not one Polish speaker. It would help enormously with our job to have some Polish speakers."

The force's police inquiry centres take an average of 20,000 calls a week. These are mainly calls to the non-emergency number but operators do take 999 calls when the control rooms are busy.

In May, the centres received 40 calls from Poles. In the past six months, 41 different languages were spoken.

In the force area, several towns have seen a huge influx of Poles in the last few years. Council leaders in Slough, Berkshire, said there had been at least 9,000 recent arrivals from Eastern Europe, many of them Polish - more than three times the 2,812 on the official register.

Employing operators who speak Polish will speed up the process and cut costs, according to the force.

Mr Brown said it was vital that the force provided the best possible service to those who did not speak English as their first language.

He added: "Positive relations between the police and minority ethnic groups are crucial if the police are to build safer, more stable communities.

"At present all non-English speaking callers are put through to a dedicated phone line where they can speak to an operator in their first language.

"We have seen a sharp rise in the number of Polish callers recently and feel that by recruiting Polish speakers we would be improving the service we give to our Polish callers.

"Being a police inquiry centre officer is a challenging and rewarding job where no two days are the same.

'If you speak Polish, with a good standard of English, have good verbal and written communication skills, the ability to problem- solve, and computer experience, we would love to hear from you."

The advertisement reads: "Can you speak Polish? Thames Valley Police needs YOU!"

Mr Brown added that vacancies were available in Kidlington in Oxfordshire, and Windsor in Berkshire.

The drive to recruit Polish-speaking operators is just the latest instance of police responding to the changing landscape of Britain since the expansion of the European Union in 2004.

A Government report revealed yesterday that the number of immigrants in rural England has more than trebled in three years.

In London, police have been issued with a translation guide to help them tackle rising crime rates among Romanian immigrants.

The idea is that they will be able to question suspected thieves and shoplifters in their own language. However, it was less clear how they are expected to understand the answers.

In Cheshire, Polish road signs were put up to prevent immigrants from getting lost in a diversion. The County Council said the eight temporary signs were needed because of large Polish populations in Crewe and Whitchurch in neighbouring Shropshire.