A POLICE chief has praised emergency call handlers who "play a critical role in the safety and wellbeing" of residents across North Wales.

Temporary Superintendent Paul Joyce of North Wales Police said that it takes a "special kind" of person to become a 999 call taker at the force's Joint Communications Centre, which it shares with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service in St Asaph.

Mr Joyce spoke in support of International Control Room Week from Monday, October 19 to Sunday, October 25 which celebrates call handlers and their knowledge, skills and expertise as the first point of contact for many people who are in distress.

It can include issues around missing people, people in a mental health crisis at risk of suicide, reports of violent and serious assaults and fatal road traffic collisions.

“Our committed Control Room staff are the unsung heroes, working together to play a critical role in the safety and wellbeing of communities across North Wales," said Mr Joyce.

“Our teams are the first point of contact for many people who are in need of our help, are vulnerable or maybe victims of crime. It’s down to the skills of the police communication operators to manage the initial call, to reassure the caller and obtain the facts and information needed to direct the correct response to the incident.

“We are fully supportive of International Control Room week which gives us the opportunity to recognise and publicly thank our teams who do an amazing job supporting our communities. Having mental health awareness is important for everyone and all efforts to highlight this are welcomed and I’m delighted to see this support from the campaign organisers.

“An emergency service control room is a unique place to work. It never stops and is constantly challenging and it takes a special kind of person to work in it. Someone resilient and empathetic, who can think on their feet and take control of what can be very distressing and challenging situations. They often deal with situations and incidents of which the majority of people will never encounter, and do so with great dignity. I am extremely proud of them.”

Every mention of #UnsungHeroes across social media channels will result un a £1 donation to the charity Mind in England and Wales, as well as to the Scottish Association for Mental Health.