News : Millions Abandoned their Calls to Non-emergency 101 Police Number
Dec 5, 2014 -- Police failed to answer more than a million calls to their non-emergency 101 phone lines in the last year - while some callers waited more than an hour to speak to someone.
Shocking statistics which emerged today show 1,085,829 calls were abandoned or dropped by the service over the last year, an increase of more than 25 per cent on the year before.
The figures show that more than a third of people calling the lines in some areas either hung up or were cut off before they managed to speak to anyone.
The 101 number was introduced across Britain in 2011 and 2012 to replace individual police station numbers and cut the number of time-consuming 999 calls.
But the new figures show that, despite the number of calls to the line falling by more than 100,000 over the last year, the percentage of calls answered is falling.
A person calling the line in Lancashire waited an hour and 18 minutes for an answer, while someone ringing Greater Manchester Police waited one hour nine minutes, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC found.
Home Office data obtained by MailOnline also shows that more than a third of those calling Lancashire police's 101 line in April and May this year were either cut off or hung up before their call was answered.
And the average time taken to answer a call to Sussex Police's 101 line in June was nearly four minutes, figures show.
Nearly half of forces failed to meet internal targets of answering calls within 30 seconds, according to the most recent figures. Five forces failed to provide figures for either their call abandonment rate or average answer time.
John O'Connell, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'It was claimed the 101 line would save money and reduce pressure on the emergency services, but the service is simply not performing and the promised benefits won't appear as a result.
'Each call centre costs money, and right now taxpayers aren't seeing value for money. We need to improve 101 service significantly by finding inefficiencies in the system, or look at whether it is worth continuing.'
The police forces with the quickest average answer time were in Wiltshire, North Wales, Lincolnshire, Essex and the City of London, where calls were answered after an average of seven seconds.
Sussex Police stated: 'The Communications Department is undergoing significant change in merging three centres into one single site. This was due to be live on the 1st of April 2014, however due to issues with technology this has been delayed until November 2014.
'The impact of this delay on performance has been significant as we are operating with the reduced staffing levels required for one site but remaining operational across three sites. Performance is expected to significantly improve from November 2014 onwards.'
Lancashire Police stated: 'While it is clear that a number of factors have contributed to the performance challenges that Contact Management has experienced over recent months we are now starting to move towards a position where the benefits of a single Force Control Room will begin to emerge, providing the residents of Lancashire with the high level of service they have come to expect.'
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, December 5, 2014