News : Calls to 101 Going Unanswered
Leicester, England, March 28, 2016 -- The number of calls to police that have been abandoned after being not answered within a minute has more than doubled in recent years.
It took call handlers around 18 seconds to answer the non-emergency 101 number in 2012/13, but that has risen to an average of one minute and 30 seconds.
Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show that 43,596 calls on the number were abandoned after a minute from April 2015 through to the end of February this year. That rose from just 21,379 in 2012/13.
The rise in waiting times has been put down to a new way of managing calls, put in place in October 2014 in order to identify vulnerable victims as well as enhance the recording of crime.
It means 101 calls are streamed into two places; with two-thirds being dealt with by a standard operator and a secondary line where more complicated calls are handled by more skilled police staff.
The call centre at Avon and Somerset Police headquarters receives 2,200 non-emergency calls every day.
Police announced last week that they would be boosting the secondary line and funding for it would remain in place throughout this year.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "I am fully aware of the frustrations that many residents have faced when they cannot get through on the 101 non-emergency number and this is the reason I will be continuing to invest in this vital service. There is still work to do but with this continued support the service is one local people can have confidence in."
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson, who's responsible for the force's communications service, said "Our way of working in the Communications Centre is designed to make sure we provide a high quality service and prioritise help and support for those who need us most.
"Demand is increasing and the nature of policing today means we must place calls about incidents that pose the greatest threat, harm and risk to victims at the very top of the list. The switchboard helps us to prioritise these calls but we need the public's help to keep the 101 service running effectively."
Every year police receive more than 200,000 999 calls, but say around one fifth of them were not emergencies.
The call handlers came under the spotlight in the case of Bristol man Bijan Ebrahimi, who was murdered by his neighbour who had wrongly believed that he was a paedophile.
In the days leading up to the 44-year-old's murder, he continually called 101 telling police there was an angry mob outside his house and he needed help, but no one came.
In a bid to lower the number of nuisance calls to police, on both the 999 and 101 number, the force carried out a Tweetathon last year, publicising some of their most ludicrous calls.
They included a woman ringing as her husband had put the wrong type of bubble bath in the tub, another female complaining her nail varnish had chipped and someone reporting a dog on the train without a ticket.
"When contacting police, please think before you call and ask yourself – is my call really important and necessary? If you're not sure, check our website first," Assistant Chief Constable Watson added. "You can also report crime online and find answers for many common inquires we receive. This can save you time and is available 24/7."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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