Lagos Control Centre: Antidote To Crime


With the recent commissioning of the Lagos State Security Command and Control Centre, a holistic measure has been put in place to checkmate the resurgence of violent crime in Lagos, southwest Nigeria. Confronted with the high crime rate few years back, the Lagos State Government adopted an emergency call centre as one of its crime-fighting strategies.

The centre controls the emergency security numbers 767 and 112. Once there is a crime incident in any part of the state and one makes a distress call to the 767 free-toll line, the command picks it up and passes the message immediately to the various crime-fighting agents across the state for prompt action. The police have foiled several violent crimes through this means in recent times.

The command and control centre is the first of its kind in Nigeria, which Governor Babatunde Fashola said, had demonstrated another example of how Lagos State Government “has refused to remain static and continues to explore and exploit the information and communication technology (ICT) solutions to enhance its services to the citizens,” and acknowledged the cooperation of such GSM operators as Airtel, Glo Mobile and MTN for providing their platforms.

Fashola said with the security command in place, the Lagos metropolis “is a secure place to live in and do business. Cases are categorised by medical emergencies, motor accidents, burglaries, traffic robberies, car thefts, vehicle fire outbreaks, building fire outbreaks, civil disturbances, collapsed buildings, abandoned cars, suspicious activity, kidnapping as well as missing persons. “The data on each of the cases are compiled on a monthly basis and provides the opportunity to study trends and deploy emergency services to the areas where they are needed most”. He noted that calls to the toll free numbers of 767 and 112 “have steadily increased from 417,000 calls in 2008 to approximately 32,000,000 calls recorded at the end of 2011.”

Over the same period, the governor explained, just over 62,000 incidents that were actual emergencies were sent to the various Lagos State emergency support agencies across the state. But what is disturbing, according to him, is that the bulk of over 31 million calls were unnecessary or test calls that did not require any action from emergency services.

“In a population of over 18 million people, 62,000 emergencies may seem a good index; but we must do more through agencies like the Safety Commission, to reduce the number of emergencies.” But Fashola promised hard measures for those who indulge in the practice of making fake calls to the emergency control centres given the number of fake calls recorded.

According to him, in October 2011, out of 2,776,036 calls made, 683,802 were fake emergency calls with the remainder being largely requests for services such as leaking pipes, potholes etc which should have been directed to the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies rather than to emergency services. He added that in November the number of fake calls had increased to 1,131,545 out of a total of 4,228,995 calls and keeps growing.

He said while the control centre operators “are doing their best to answer as many calls as possible, the fact is that Lagos is home to 18 million people. It is practically impossible to attend to all emergency calls with the added burden of fake ones. The implication is that help may be slow in coming to someone who genuinely needs it; perhaps even ourselves.

“Parents are enjoined to educate their children as young people constitute the highest number of offenders in this regard. We should all remember that emergencies are no respecter of persons. For many years, we had longed for a facility such as this. This government has provided the three-digit toll-free number, and we are maintaining it with your taxes. It is a life-saving device and not a toy. It is indeed a worthy course we must all support.

“As awareness has grown, plans have also been finalised to increase the control centre operator capacity to 100 operators per shift to cope with increased demand. This, will of course, provide the much-needed gainful employment that our unemployed youths so desperately desire. The scope of the communication and command centre was expanded in April 2008 with the introduction of the Lagos State Emergency toll free numbers —767 and 112.

“The service commenced with 18 call centre operators at a centre in Surulere. From that location, emergency calls received from citizens were escalated to the various security and safety agencies for prompt response. In February 2009, an additional 15 call centre operators were added to the service at the RRS Command and Control Centre in Alausa.

“Upon completion of this facility, the entire operations were moved here on July 2010 and an additional 97 operators were employed, bringing the total number to 120 operators, working 3 shifts, in batches of 40 operators per shift, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Now, the command and control centre is a potent antidote for fighting crime,” he said.

The Lagos State Security Command and Control Centre is being controlled by Contact Solution. According to Mr. Abiodun Adeoye, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Contact Solution Limited, a firm that operates the centre, with the inauguration of the control centre, the Lagos metropolis “will witness a significant drop in crime rate by 90 per cent”.

Adeoye explained the significance of the command and control centre, saying the centre would aid emergency agencies respond within a period of five minutes “to emergencies such as kidnapping, fire incidents, building collapse, armed robbery, kidnapping and cases of gang riot and violence. So, the residents are only required to make call to the control centre while the centre escalate the call to the appropriate emergency agencies.”

He added that emergency agencies, such as Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Lagos State Fire and Safety Service and the State Environmental Task Force had “units within the command and the idea is to respond with precision to emergency and crisis situations.”

He said the idea behind the creation of emergency response units within the command was based on the need for prompt and precise response to emergency and crisis situations in the state. Adeoye stated that the nature of crime incidents “determines the exact emergency agency,” which he said, would be communicated for prompt and precise response.

“An incident may be fire incident, robbery case or rioting. This depends on the nature of the emergency, and the strategy has yielded much result in the last four years. Because Lagos residents have emergency lines to call whenever they fall victim to any crime, we have been able to chase criminals away from the state by 90 per cent.

“Crime in Lagos is no more a big story in the news anymore within the state. Although, they are in other states but what I think they should do is to borrow is leaf from Lagos and implement it,” he said.

Adeoye said he had travelled “to different regions in the country. Unfortunately, many of the states do not have the fortitude and willingness to implement what the Fashola administration has done in Lagos State. This administration has passion for the residents of the state, and part of it is to ensure that the state is safe for people from all parts of the country.

“No governor in the country has such passion. None of them has that passion. Rather, the governors keep their security vote. We paid a visit to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. He is a medical doctor who understands correctly the idea of emergency control centre. He said it was a good idea but he did not have the passion which will lead to its implementation.

“We also approached Cross Rivers State and explain the idea to Governor Liyel Imoke. He understood my argument. All he did was to applaud the idea. So, at the end, nothing happened,” Adeoye noted, citing priority of each state government as a critical factor in its choice of policies.

According to him, “this is what makes Lagos different from other state.

So, when the command and control centre was launched, it was apparent that Fashola’s passion is no doubt a function of policy priority and that no human endeavour will thrive where there is insecurity. The growth of the Lagos economy and increasing investment attraction has been driven by the maintenance of law and order and very high level of security.”

Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Adebiyi Mabadeje, said the command and control centre would assist the state government in planning and preparing for challenges ahead to provide a better environment for its residents, both individuals and corporate entities that chose Lagos as a place to live and do business.

“The centre will aid the centralization and coordination of activities of LASAMBUS, RRS, LASTMA and LASEMA among others. The Centre will also assist in allowing the state get a clearer picture of the number of incidents (emergency, security or otherwise) which will lead to better service delivery and planning for the future,” he stated.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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