News : Failing Call Response Times Blamed on Lack of Staff
Sept 18, 2014 -- Police are taking too long to answer 999 emergency calls from the public, according to new figures.
Officials at Staffordshire Police blame the failing response times on a lack of staff at control centres.
New figures show that the force are only answering 78 per cent of 999 calls within 10 seconds.
Meanwhile people calling the 101 non-emergency number are waiting on average almost two minutes for an answer, with some callback times even longer.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly said: "We have lost a number of staff. We are pulling out all the stops to improve performance."
As a result of the findings, the force is expanding its control room team by recruiting 35 new members of staff in hoping to improve call response times.
Agency staff are also being brought in to try to improve performance before the new staff are recruited.
The poor performance comes as Staffordshire Police this month closed their control room at Hanley Police Station to open a bigger call centre for the whole of the county at the Stafford headquarters.
19 staff from Hanley have not moved to Stafford and 22 call-handlers are to return to front-line policing. It leaves 146 staff working at the call centre – a shortage.
Acting Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said: "We did have two control rooms, one at Hanley and one at headquarters.
"They have both closed and we have a bigger, purpose-built control room at headquarters.
"A lot of staff have transferred from Hanley but some didn't want to go to Stafford.
"We didn't know how many wouldn't want to move. "There are also now very few police officers who are working in the control room.
"We want to get the extra staff in by early next year but, because of training, we can't get them all in at once. "There will be intakes in October, November and January."
Staffordshire's police and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis (pictured) is calling for performances to be improved.
The force is expected to answer 90 per cent of emergency 999 calls within 10 seconds.
Mr Ellis said: "I have had feedback from public meetings where people have complained about some 101 calls and even 999 calls not being answered quickly enough.
"Performance has dropped.
"Moving to the new control room will make the response faster. I expect a good improvement.
"The police are under greater scrutiny with the police and crime commisioner system than ever before."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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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 19, 2014