Critical support during civil unrest

The Airwave Network delivered crucial support as the unprecedented London riots of 2011 ignited a chain of unrest, violence, looting and arson across the country…

Respected worldwide for their expertise, the police, fire and ambulance services are highly trained professionals, yet the speed at which the riots spread challenged the emergency services to maintain public order.
Respected worldwide for their expertise, the police, fire and ambulance services are highly trained professionals, yet the speed at which the riots spread challenged the emergency services to maintain public order.

The emergency services were dealing with unparalleled levels of criminality, as well as helping thousands of innocent people affected by the chaos.

The Airwave Service is built to absorb surges of 20 per cent on a day-to-day basis, but the riots caused usage in the London area to increase by 100 per cent.* Despite this, the Network stood firm, remaining completely stable and reliable.

As the riots spread and new areas of unrest were reported, the Airwave Network sites in the affected areas were monitored constantly by a dedicated team of Airwave personnel. Case Study – Civil Unrest & Public Disorder

By utilising dynamic tactical options through the use of site profiles, the Airwave teams provided full technical support to the emergency services throughout the unrest, delivering the flexibility for the Network to respond to constantly changing circumstances.

In the London area, the average number of Police officers on duty in a night is usually about 2,000. The Airwave Network was able to cope with a total of 16,000 officers, many of whom came from other forces, thus showing the true interoperability capabilities of the Airwave Service. We believe this was a great example of partnership working between the Police service and Airwave in very trying circumstances.

Nick Gargan, Chief Executive, National Policing Improvement Agency

An open conference bridge was put in place by Airwave to ensure full interaction between user organisations, the Airwave technical teams and Airwave customer support. Issues could be discussed and resolved via rapid decision making processes – especially critical in the core evening hours of the unrest.

As the situation calmed around the country, Airwave personnel continued to provide enhanced support to ensure service levels were maintained if usage significantly increased.

·       Police on the streets in London increased from 6,000 to 16,000
·       Voice calls handled by the London switch doubled from 2m to 4m*
·       Minutes of use increased by 500,000*
·       25 Police forces from around the country assisted London’s Metropolitan Police with mutual aid
·        Air–to-ground capacity on the Airwave Network was increased to accommodate increased air security
·       West Midlands Police numbers increased six fold to 3,341 officers on the streets

 *Network usage figures are comparing 2 August 2011 with 9 August 2011