News : Police Force Wasted an Hour a Day Using Public 101 Hotline for Force Admin
London, UK, Nov 25, 2016 -- Police wasted up to an hour a day calling the 101 telephone line to carry out administrative tasks.
The hotline, which is a non-emergency alternative to 999 that was introduced in 2006, is notorious for testing the public's patience thanks to long waiting times.
It was designed for the public to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response.
But some forces have been misusing the hotline.
BBC reported that a memo was sent in March to Devon & Cornwall Police staff saying: "Police officers and police staff must cease immediately the practice of calling 101 for administrative tasks: on average one hour a day is being spent by 101 operator's (sic) managing this demand."
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It explained that officers and staff had been using the hotline to request internal telephone numbers, but reminded them that there was a directory on the force's intranet.
Derbyshire Constabulary had also warned its officers not to abuse the 101 facility, the investigation found.
Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, Strategic Alliance Commander for Operations for Devon, Cornwall and Dorset said: "An internal message went out 8 months ago asking staff and officers not to contact 101 for tasks including requesting in and out of force telephone numbers.
"This was part of a wider internal message to promote the new force telephone directory which allowed staff and officers to locate said details themselves. We receive in the region of 2,000 calls a day to our 101 service, officer calls were averaging around 10 per day – since the message went out to staff and our new directory was launched, this practice has ceased entirely."
A spokesman also said that the hour a day figure was significantly less than the hundreds of man hours a day put in by call centre staff.
Superintendent Tracy Harrison, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said that staff had "responded positively" to instructions to use their online telephone directory rather than the public hotline.
"There are always times when it is appropriate for officers to call 101," she said, "but the recent introduction of mobile data equipment will reduce these calls even further."
Almost three-and-a-half million calls to 101, the police’s non-emergency number, went unanswered in the last four years, according to figures uncovered in July.
Some callers to the number, designed to deal with reports of crime such as drug dealing and theft, waited for more than two hours before they either gave up or were answered.
The number of abandoned calls between 2012 and May this year is 3,469,984, according to Freedom of Information requests by the Daily Mail that were answered by 36 out of 43 UK police forces.
In 2015, a senior police officer admitted the public are wasting their time dialling 101.
Inspector Matt Johnson, from Cambridgeshire Police, left local politicians flabbergasted when he admitted in a public meeting that "life was too short" to use the service.
The inspector appeared to have realised his mistake almost immediately, and added: "I'm not supposed to say that."
His comments came after repeated criticisms of the 101 service.
It was designed to replace local police station numbers and cut the number of 999 calls by diverting non-urgent calls away from the main force control room.
The public also have to pay around 15p to call 101, while 999 calls are free of charge.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Cornwall Police:
The Cornwall Community Police Service has served the citizens of Cornwall since 1784 and is comprised of 91 officers, 34 civilians and 9 special constables.
Published: Monday, November 28, 2016
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