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Sharp Increase in Average Time it to Answer 101 Calls

Bradford, UK, March 2, 2016 -- The average time it took West Yorkshire Police to answer non-emergency 101 calls dramatically increased by nearly eight times.

In 12 months, the length of time it took for a caller to speak to a call handler went up from 14 seconds to 104 seconds.

And figures for April to November last year, showed the call response time rose again, to 106 seconds.

West Yorkshire Police revealed the figures, which covered the financial years to March 2014 and March 2015, in response to a Freedom of Information request.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said the delays were unacceptable, and extra staff had been recruited to address the problem.

The number of 101 calls received each month by West Yorkshire Police ranged from 68,621 to 93,007.

The force said it employed 185 full time call handlers at its customer contact centre, with up to 50 handlers working at peak times.

The percentage of abandoned calls rose, from five per cent in 2013-14 to 13 per cent the following year.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said police had to prioritise 999 calls.

He said: "If you are a member of the public you should be able to phone the police and for it to be answered immediately. But we are facing times of unprecedented demand, with less staff."

Mr Burns-Williamson said there had been challenges with call waiting times due to cuts to services. But both the 999 and 101 systems were now working well and the current waiting time for those calling 101 was between 18 and 60 seconds, and the abandoned calls rate now stood at 4.2 per cent.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "Work is always being done to improve the service and I believe that is demonstrated by the call waiting times and abandoned calls being reduced."

He added: "I can understand the frustration sometimes of people, trying to help the police, being delayed on the phone and would never want them to be deterred from helping officers and tackling crime. I would urge people to make use of the online facilities to report crime."

West Yorkshire Police Customer Contact Centre Manager, Tom Donohoe, said: " In 2015, West Yorkshire Police answered 925,416 calls to the 101 number, and 362,229 999 emergency calls.

"We do continue to work hard to improve our 101 response with the average queue time now standing at 60 seconds.

"It is important to note that the average queue time for 999 response is six seconds, and has been as low as four seconds in the last few weeks, so we are there when the public most need us. This figure is amongst the best in the country for emergency response.

"Meanwhile, last year we also introduced new online reporting tools on our website to reduce pressure on the 101 number and evidence suggests they are proving popular.

"Between January and December 2015 we had 56,236 on line interactions with residents including 23,384 live chat sessions and over 7,000 on line crime reports.

"Our web-based information and reporting facility called Clickb4ucall provides residents with information about a range of issues at the touch of a mouse, and allows for non-emergency crime reports to be made on line, rather than via 101."


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Source: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

Date Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2016

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