A POLICE force will take its control room operations in-house sooner than expected.

Cleveland Police has announced that its force control room will transfer back from private company Sopra Steria on May 1 this year, sooner than expected.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger decided last year that the contract would not be extended past its natural end in October 2020.

The control room, which handles 999 and 101 calls from the public, will be brought back sooner than planned to allow senior officers to bring in the necessary changes to support frontline policing.

The decision to return the control room to Cleveland Police has been made in mutual agreement with Sopra Steria, a statement from the force said.

All control room staff, including call handlers, that are directly employed by Sopra Steria will be transferred across to Cleveland Police.

Assistant Chief Officer Brian Thomas said: “The control room is at the heart of our daily interactions with the public and the way people want to communicate with us has changed over time.

"By bringing the control room back in-house this year we can implement changes with increased flexibility to help us meet the demands that we face and our responsibilities to local people.

“We have a good partnership with Sopra Steria and they have assisted us with achieving financial savings over the term of the contract.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “We began our partnership with Sopra Steria nearly a decade ago and since 2010 the numbers of emergency calls into Cleveland Police has risen dramatically over recent years.

"The Force received 23,000 more 999 calls in 2018 than in 2010, an increase of 28 per cent."

“I am committed to refocusing and boosting the control room and support the early return back to the Force which will allow for a renewed way of working in these current times.”

In 2010, Sopra Steria took over running services such as HR functions, estates, control room functions and IT.

The force has been carrying out 'due diligence' on how it performs in the future and planning how it will deliver the services when the contract comes to an end in 2020.

Steria says it has delivered £70, of cost savings since 2010, with a further £2m a year since 2016 when te contract was rewritten.