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News : South Yorkshire Police 101 Phone System is Not Adequate
West Yorkshire, UK, July 3, 2015 -- South Yorkshire’s police commissioner has admitted the 101 telephone system is inadequate for people wanting to report crime after it emerged that callers to the county’s police force can be left waiting 40 minutes to get an answer.
Dr Alan Billings has now ordered a full review of the way South Yorkshire Police communicates with the public, saying that problems with technology and staffing levels at the force’s Atlas Court communications centre in Sheffield, meaning technology will have to be improved.
But Dr Billings said Atlas Court accounted for around a quarter of the force’s civilian staff and protecting that element of the workforce from cuts meant that savings would have to be found elsewhere.
He said: "I am now hearing all across South Yorkshire. We realise that there is a problem.
"I am commissioning a review into how people communicate with the police. Almost the whole communication is through 101.
"I am saying, are there other ways in this modern age in which we can communicate so we spread the load.
"If it is concentrated on 101, there will be problems. We have to upgrade technology. You get glitches and hitches. There must be other ways in which communication can happen, otherwise there will be trouble.
"To protect the workforce at Atlas Court you have to go somewhere else and there are not that many places to go to.
"We understand that 101 is not working. People have waited 25 and 40 minutes. There are the ones who won’t wait."
Barnsley Coun Doug Burkinshaw, who represent the Central ward, told Dr Billings: "People have lost complete confidence in 101. You will not get people ringing up and waiting for 25 minutes.
"People ring in and ask for a crime number, to be told to go to a police station.
"If you want co-operation, you have to show things are happening," he said.
"Unless you sort out 101 you will not get the confidence of people."
The same complaints were made at every meeting he attended, said Coun Birkinshaw, who was speaking at a public meeting to address anti social behaviour issues in the Sheffield Road area.
He also suggested difficulties in reporting crime was one reason for recent falls in crime statistics: "Crime statistics are falling but it is not because crime is falling. It is because people can’t report it," he said.
South Yorkshire Police Insp Julie Mitchell said: "I am well aware of issues with 101. There is a staffing issue with our call handling centre and some telephony issues.
"I have heard some people are waiting for 25 minutes and they lose faith and give up.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About South Yorkshire Police:
South Yorkshire Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing South Yorkshire in England.
Published: Monday, July 6, 2015