Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has met with the Chief Constable to discuss public concern over the time it takes operators to answer some calls.

Although the Constabulary’s response to 999 calls is very good and within the national standard, complaints were mounting over frequent long delays in answering the non-emergency 101 number.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said,

“It’s one of the topics that people often ask me about and is an issue which naturally worries them.”

Recent figures show that, on average, Gloucestershire Police deal with around 1,000 calls every day. Around two hundred of those are 999 calls and about 750 on the 101 non-emergency line.

The time limit laid down nationally for answering 999 calls is 10 seconds and for 101 calls it is 40 seconds.

Mr. Surl said,

“At the beginning of last year, the time it was taking to answer all calls was unacceptable and in some cases – specifically for 999 calls – dangerous. It is to the Chief Constable’s credit that she picked up on this as soon as she came in and down to her strong management and hard work by a number of police officers and staff that performance levels have improved greatly since then.   

“However, while the priority, understandably, was to improve the response to 999 calls it’s had a detrimental effect on the 101 service and response times have fluctuated. At the moment, nearly three quarters of people who call 101 are answered within the 40 second standard.

“That is still a long time and I think it should be the exception rather than the norm. The challenge for the police is to improve the 101 service whilst maintaining the standard they have achieved with regard to 999 calls.”

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said,

“Our 999 calls relate to the most risky issues for our communities. The Commissioner was quite correct in identifying this to me when I arrived as it was not acceptable.

“As a result, we have made several changes to our call handling system which has improved our ability to answer 101calls whilst retaining our good performance in relation to 999 calls. There is a long term plan in place which will continue to improve our service to the public.

“Demand analysis, changes to processes and alterations to shift patterns – have led to a steady improvement and we are constantly striving for even better results. The very latest figures indicate that we answer 72% of 101 calls in 40 seconds and the percentage of people who have hung up before they were answered is down to 8%.

“We are taking action to ensure that the calls that come to us but are not intended for the police go to the right organisation. We would also like to emphasise that it would certainly help if the public contacted us by e-mail on when their enquiry does not need an instant response.”

In November, the Police will be inviting local people into the Force Control Room so that they can look behind the scenes.

Chief Constable Davenport said,

“They will be able to see the latest state-of-the-art equipment used by operators to deal with each, individual call. 

 “This is a real opportunity for people to see how the hi-tech system works -from the initial phone call, made by the member of the public, to how it is prioritised and sent on to an officer/department for appropriate action.

 “We hope it will give people an insight into the continual improvements we are making to ensure our service continues to help people in Gloucestershire.”

During the two hour visits, officers will be on hand to answer any questions. Dates and times are:

Tuesday 11 November 2014 6pm – 8pm

Friday 14 November 2014 10am – 12noon

Tuesday 18 November 2014 6pm – 8pm

Wednesday 19 November 2014 10am – 12noon

Tuesday 25 November 2014 10am – 12noon

Thursday 27 November 2014 6pm – 8pm.

Should you have any questions or wish to book a visit please contact Simon Goodenough at simon.goodenough@gloucestershire.pnn.police.ukor on 01452 754113.