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News : Inquiry Launched After Man Dialled Police 101 Non-emergency Number 100 Times in One Week
Stoke-on-Trent, UK, Sept 13, 2016 -- Police are sending officers to the homes of callers who persistently contact the force's busy non-emergency line – after revealing one man dialled 101 at least 100 times in just one week.
Staffordshire Police have identified a number of people who frequently bombard the force's contact centre with calls.
It is estimated that 30 per cent of the 47,000 calls made to the number in June were for non-police matters.
Now neighbourhood officers are visiting the repeat callers to find out why they keep contacting 101.
The crackdown comes as the force is recruiting 24 more staff to bolster its under-pressure Stafford-based control room to try to speed up the time it takes to answer calls.
It is not a criminal offence to repeatedly call the 101 service.
Superintendent Wayne Jones said: "We find a lot of people who call 101 a lot of times are calling us as the last-resort service. Many may have issues in their lives that have not been resolved.
"A majority are linked to mental health issues or are alcohol and drug-related. The work we will do with them is to try to review the reasons they are calling us."
He added: "They are not only calling us but many other service providers looking for some help. If someone is repeatedly calling us there is going to be an underlying issue and it is about spending time with that person to determine what the referral pathway should involve.
"It's not about just stopping them calling us, but more to see how we can help them."
The 101 service was launched four years ago and receives about 30,000 calls per month.
But the service became beset with problems when dozens of control room staff quit and people waited on average five minutes for their calls to be answered in October, 2014. In one case, one person was left waiting on the phone for 47 minutes before finally speaking to the police.
New figures show 56 per cent of 101 calls made between May, 2015 and June this year were answered in less than 15 seconds.
Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis says other agencies – including councils and the NHS – should be providing more support.
He said: "My concern is that the police don't overreach themselves and try to fix everything.
"Other agencies have to do more to support them. The repeat calls I have been told about represent a phenomenal draw on resources and it cannot be right that the police are left to deal with it."
Some residents had refused to report crimes to the 101 service because they were sick of their calls not being answered. But the situation improved after the police introduced a call-back service.
Nicola Craggs, secretary of Joiners Square Residents' Association, said: "The 101 service is good, although some people do abuse it.
"It is made clear when you call that it is for non-emergencies and there is even a call-back service and that works well."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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More Editorial From Staffordshire Police
About Staffordshire Police:
Staffordshire Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands of England.
Published: Friday, September 16, 2016