Dyfed-Powys Police chooses Gamma’s Voice solution for Microsoft Teams, enabling 1000 employees to connect in rural Wales.

Of the four forces that police Wales, Dyfed-Powys Police Force is responsible for the largest geographical area, serving a resident population of more than 515,000 that is swelled each summer by the influx of holiday-makers. The mostly rural beat covers the bulk of central Wales from the border with England in the east to 350 miles of wild coastline in the west and south. With its headquarters in Carmarthen, the force has around 600 civilian staff engaged in delivering administrative services to enable some 1,200 police officers to carry out their work in the community.

In common with forces all over the UK, a key focus of the IT department at Dyfed-Powys has been participation in the National Enabling Programmes (NEP) in which forces moved common technologies to the cloud in order to achieve cost savings while improving productivity and collaboration.

Senior ICT operations manager Mark Hall was involved in specifying the infrastructure required to underpin the NEP project at Dyfed-Powys Police. He recalls: “We were looking for an increase in bandwidth to support migration of key applications to the cloud under NEP and we also had a disaster recovery site that we wanted to bring online too. To increase resilience, we wanted to split connectivity between two providers.”

The procurement process was carried out within the Welsh government’s procurement framework, with the contracts for the 1gb connections being awarded to BT and Gamma. It was Hall’s first encounter with Gamma and it left him impressed with how the company performed. When later the IT department faced the task of managing the retirement of the existing ISDN lines into each police station, Gamma was included in the invitation to tender, again under the Welsh Government procurement framework.

“Retiring the on-premises equipment at every remote site and consolidating incoming numbers onto a single line coming into headquarters was clearly going to save the force a significant amount of expenditure,” says Hall. “The Welsh Government framework puts a lot of weight on quality as well as cost and we liked the way Gamma proposed working around the then current shortage of available lines by using its Inbound service. Gamma won the contract and then had the task of procuring the required links and migrating the existing police station phone numbers to the new centralised system. The process was pretty seamless. When we hit a snag Gamma didn’t push it back to us along with a bigger invoice, but worked with us and together we got it done.”

The National Enabling Programmes include the adoption by police forces of Microsoft 365 and Teams. While procuring the Internet connectivity and with an eye on possible future requirements, the Dyfed Powys IT team had included an option to add SIP trunks at some point in the future. With NEP now a national reality, Hall and his colleagues exercised that option, using the SIP trunks and Teams Direct Routing to enable remote and mobile staff to make phone calls from Teams. “Now people get allocated a direct dial number when they join us. We’ve got around 1,000 users at the moment, along with plenty of capacity in hand. The service from Gamma remains solid and we have just renewed our contract with them for a further 24 months.”

The reality of connectivity in rural Wales is that the bulk of existing infrastructure is owned by Openreach. Hall says that despite the fact that the resolution of occasional faults is therefore ultimately mostly in the hands of Openreach, Gamma owns the problems, hides the complexity and provides a single point of contact and accountability; a way of working, that he notes stands in stark contrast to that of some other suppliers. “Gamma do the right thing by us and keep on top of problems. That’s a sign of a good supplier. Every commercial relationship has issues from time to time but Gamma always takes ownership and sorts things.”