Police call-takers' first substantive question projects the outcome of the call
journal contributionposted on 22.01.2019, 14:58 by Alexandra Kent, Charles AntakiCharles Antaki
Police call-takers need to gather as much data as is needed, as quickly as possible, to determine whether and what action should be taken. On analysing 514 calls to a UK centre handling emergency (999) and non-emergency (101) calls, we find that the call-taker’s first substantive question already carries a diagnosis of the merits of the caller's case, and an implication of the call's likely outcome. Such questions come principally in four formats. On a gradient of increasing scepticism, these are: requests for the caller's location (which are treated as indicating that police action will be taken); open-ended requests for further information (treated as neutral); queries of the relevance of the incident or legitimacy of the caller, and reformulations of the caller's reason for calling (both projecting upcoming refusal of police action). We discuss the implications of this gradient for understanding how the calltakers manage their institutional goals. Data are in British English.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media