'Ello, 'ello 'ello . . . quality in the dock

February 17, 1995

All over the country, the police are beginning to investigate standards of service at further education colleges.

In return, the colleges are taking a close look at police complaints procedure.

There is, however, no cause for alarm. Both sides are merely responding to a call from the Government to establish Citizens Charter Quality Networks.

Citizens Charter minister Robert Hughes hopes local quality managers from across the public and recently-privatised sector will flock to the quality networks to learn from each other.

"The aim is to share information on best practice, compare progress in areas of common interest, erode boundaries between public service organisations, and encourage problem-sharing and solving," Mr Hughes told an audience of 180 principals at the first Charter Quality Seminar for further education colleges in London this week.

"The police force or fire brigade or local college all deal with customers and there are a lot of similarities with the way they deal with people, the way they consult people," he said.

"The swapping of ideas and bringing together of disparate public services can be of enormous benefit to all of us."

Dozens of quality networks are said to be starting up which might, for example, help the fire brigade to make good use of lessons in dealing with customers from the water companies.

And, of course, they will enable colleges to discuss best practice with those other providers keen to serve education customers - the local authorities.

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