x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Secret shoppers rate UAE services

Close to 20,000 "mystery shoppers" have gone undercover in government departments to rate the standard of service and report back to the prime minister and his deputies.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, during the Government Summit yesterday. He said if reports come back that are not positive, departments must swiftly rectify them. Pawan Singh / The National
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, during the Government Summit yesterday. He said if reports come back that are not positive, departments must swiftly rectify them. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Close to 20,000 "mystery shoppers" have gone undercover in government departments to rate the standard of service and report back to the prime minister and his deputies.

Of these service spies, about 15,000 report directly to the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and 2,000 report back to Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister.

"This is the sort of accountability and monitoring that has been set," Sheikh Saif told the Government Summit yesterday.

"My brothers, I would like to advise you with a piece of advice given to me by a brother. These mystery shoppers will be sending reports which may not be positive and when they do I hope you are able to reverse them."

Those sentiments where echoed earlier in the day by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Public Works, who said his departments aim to provide a five-star service.

"We wanted to provide excellent service so we started focusing on pleasing our customers and our employees, focusing also on the quality and pace of the services. That [made] the ministries want to provide an even better service."

Another method used by the Ministry of Interior to improve standards, Sheikh Saif said, was a two-year programme for which the 20 best police college graduates are selected each year.

The cadets work during the day as officers and train at night in management skills and a new language.

After the two-year training period, the officers are sent to the best universities in the world to complete a master's degree. The following year, the officers go back into the field before being selected to complete a doctorate.

Since 2003, he said, the number of police officers with bachelor's degrees had increased by 45 per cent, there were 12 per cent more master's degree holders and 27 per cent more doctorates.

"By supporting the national element, preparing them and enabling them we are able to create leaders," he said.

More than 200 nationalities reside in the UAE, Sheikh Saif said, and with the increasing population growth rate, rising expectations and different patterns of crimes, his ministry was hard at work to evolve.

"Our sector is working around the clock to provide security services that do not accept any room for error. The Ministry of Interior provides more than 25 per cent of the total government services," he said.

When time came to evaluate their performance, he said, they would only ever compare themselves to the best global levels.

"For the serious crime rate per every 100,000 we have had a significant reduction since 2011," he said.

In 2011 there were 6,119 crimes per 100,000 while in past year 5,119 crimes per 100,000 were recorded. He also noted the general feeling of security among residents had risen from 86.10 per cent in 2009 to 91.6 per cent in 2011.

The UAE is secure not because of its security forces, Sheikh Saif said, but because of the 1,150,000 Emiratis who are all working together to secure the country.

"The two things that worry me the most are lazy employees who cause accidental deaths - especially those of children," he said. "A lazy employee should not be allowed to be in the position that he is in and we should all feel responsible for what he or she is doing wrong.

"Children's accidental deaths resulting from carelessness or road deaths are my main worry and we should raise the awareness of families and people to reduce them," Sheikh Saif said.

"I want to reiterate what brother Dahi Khalfan said. We want to reduce these deaths to zero."

amustafa@thenational.ae