Thames Valley Police are calling for hundreds of “mystery shoppers” to go undercover and test the service it provides to the public. Volunteers are being asked to go incognito and quiz policing staff regarding matters like missing pets and asking for directions.
Anybody who signs up and volunteers for the scheme will each be handed a separate task – requesting different things from the police and in turn, filling out a survey which will give vital feedback to the Police on how they perform when dealing with public figures.
A message has been sent out by the Thames Valley branch of the Police, which reads: ““The purpose of the Mystery Shopping Programme is to assess how Thames Valley Police perform (including our strengths and weaknesses) and to identify any areas where we might need to make changes or improvements.”
They later added to the message that they were “not able to offer any incentive or reimburse expenses” of things like petrol used by volunteers in the mystery shopping programme, though this doesn’t come as a major surprise to those interested.
The scheme comes after a newspaper in Oxford (The Oxford Mail) had reported that 12 people had completed questionnaires that were used to measure the impact of cutbacks on Police Station opening hours.
Three years ago, Thames Valley Police brought back the amount of public access hours to their police stations by up to 70 per cent. Though this may seem a considerable number, it’s allowed savings of over £600,000 since its beginning.
Natalie Wallace, Spokeswoman for the Police Force, believes that the scheme will assess the performance of front counter services, allowing the force to identify potential shortcomings in their service. She added that the Police Force were looking for anywhere between 300-500 new volunteers across the Thames Valley area.
She said: “They will be given the task and they will have 28 days to get their results back in so they are able to choose when and to which station they go during that time. They won’t be required to do anything like report crime or stolen property.”
The tasks are set to include asking the front desk for advice when reporting a lost dog/item, or when asking for directions to a building or place in the local area.
The mystery shoppers will supply the Force with general feedback regarding the levels of customer service they received, whether that be from the Front Counter or whether the information they received by information, helpful and friendly.
If you’re interested in helping the Thames Valley Police Force, please visit their website here.