News : Police Scotland 999 Call-handling Performance ‘Unacceptable’
Edinburg, Scotland, June 25, 2015 -- Emergency calls to police have taken up to three minutes to be answered by staff at Police Scotland’s new Edinburgh control room.
During one week in May, two people who dialled 999 hung up after two minutes of waiting for a response from Police Scotland’s contact, command and control centre at Bilston Glen, which took over Fife calls in March.
According to figures presented to the Scottish Police Authority, non-emergency 101 calls took up to 11 minutes 28 seconds to be picked up.
It also emerged 13 per cent of police officers and almost 11 per cent of police staff in the service centre are off sick and the force has struggled to recruit staff.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called the situation a crisis and said: "To wait over 11 minutes is bad enough for a non-emergency call but to wait three minutes – which must have felt like an eternity – is unacceptable and bordering on life-threatening.
Following the closure of Glenrothes call centre in March, the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP warned of "horror stories" from staff that 101 calls were on hold for 40 minutes.
He said: "When I raised this before we were told all calls were answered in a minute. Now we are finding out the truth."
A report to the SPA of performance during May and early June showed that hundreds of fed-up callers have hung up.
Nine per cent of 999 calls took longer than the 10-second target to answer and 13 per cent of 101 calls longer than 40 seconds. Average waits were between five and six seconds and 10 and 20 seconds, respectively.
Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson admitted the transfer to Bilston Glen had "not been without its challenges".
She said: "Police Scotland aims to answer 90% of non-emergency calls within 40 seconds of them connecting to our service centres.
"Occasionally something happens that means we experience a spike in demand that results in a slower response to calls for a short time.
"The delay of 11 minutes and 28 seconds on May 26 was as a result of a spike that affected call demand for one hour.
"It can be seen from the rest of the statistics provided that this is not a common event and we use all opportunities to minimise an impact like this."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Police Scotland:
The Police Service of Scotland is the primary police service of Scotland. It was formed in 2013 with the merger of all eight territorial police forces in Scotland and the specialist services of the Scottish Police Services Authority, including the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. Although not formally absorbing it, the merger also resulted in the winding down of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
Published: Friday, June 26, 2015