West Midlands Police spend £2,000 calling the speaking clock
West Midlands Police has spent more than £2,000 calling the talking clock an incredible 4,500 times in the past six years.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that officers and staff have dialled the 123 number nearly 900 times this year alone.
The Express & Star understands the calls to the 45p-a-minute line were made despite the fact the office phones display the time as do force computers and mobile phones.
The force said officers in the forensics department sometimes use the service to get the accurate time for CCTV footage.
But the figures have been criticised by Conservative Walsall councillor Mike Bird who is a member of the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel – the body that holds Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson to account.
"This would appear to me to be an absolute waste of public money and could be used towards front line operations.
"It may be an operational matter but I think it is appropriate the Police and Crime Commissioner steps in to get a proper explanation."
The figures show that between 2011 and this year the force called the 123 number 4,588 times.
At 45p a minute the calls would have cost at least £2,064.
The force said its systems would not allow it to work out how much the calls actually cost.
It has had to cut £130 million over the past five years and has lost 2,500 police officer.
Similarly, it said the figures were 'subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system'.
The number of calls to the talking clock in 2011 was 865, in 2012 there was 815, 583 in 2013, 679 in 2014, 776 in 2015, and 870 so far in 2016.
Helen Davis-Clough, Senior IT Delivery Manager at West Midlands Police, said: "The figures show the speaking clock service was called 870 times in 2016 – so that's less than three times a day for a workforce of around 10,000 people.
"That said, in a climate where every pound of public money counts, staff must have a genuine operational reason to be using this service.
"The speaking clock is sometimes used by our Digital Forensics Unit when seizing and downloading CCTV as part of a crime investigation.
"Often we find CCTV systems don't display the correct time – we need to know exactly how far out they are, hence using the service, as when chronicling a sequence of events the timings need to be accurate to the second."
Councillor Bird added: "I just can't accept that the talking clock is the only option to them. If you go online there are various websites with the exact Greenwich Mean Time to the second.
"Also clocks and mobile phones all have precise electronic time. I sounds like to me the police have too much time on their hands."