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Police non emergency calls answered within 10 seconds

March 11, 2013, 9:27 am

LATEST figures from West Midlands Police reveal calls to its non emergency 101 number are answered within 10 seconds − the national target is to answer 90 per cent of calls within 30 seconds.

The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request from the BBC to all forces in the UK and England.

In a snap shot of calls taken between October 2011 and September 2012, the average wait time for a call to be answered was 10.25 seconds. During that period on average the shortest wait time for a call to be answered was eight seconds and the longest was 14 seconds.

December 2012 figures revealed that 98 per cent of non emergency calls were answered within 30 seconds − well above the 90 per cent national target.

West Midlands Police receives a high volume of calls for service every day of the year to the national 101 non emergency number and to the emergency 999 number.

Typically, the force receives over 1,500 calls a day to the 999 number alone.

Last year the force announced plans to make significant changes to how it answers non emergency calls, aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of call handling.

As part of a drive to improve standards a corporate department called Force Contact was launched last summer to help improve call handling standards.

Force Contact has responsibility for all Contact Centres − bringing a more consistent, efficient approach to call handling across the force.

The force currently answers all non emergency calls from 12 sites.

Under the centralised department, a process called ‘load sharing’ has been introduced, allowing Contact Centres to pick up calls from other cluster areas – reducing caller waiting times.

In the longer term the force will consolidate the handling of non emergency calls into two brand new hubs.

The new hubs will operate from two existing force sites – Lloyd House in Birmingham and West Bromwich police station.

All Contact Centre staff are trained to assess the vulnerability of the caller and provide the appropriate level of service.

First contact resolution also allows many calls to be resolved by the non emergency call handler over the telephone whilst meeting the needs of the caller.

The force ran a 24 hour tweet-a-thon from the @WMPolice account at the end of January to demonstrate to the public some of the real-time calls received by the Force Contact Centre.

Through the release of recorded emergency calls, the exercise also showed how ringing 999 for inappropriate reasons − such as losing the password for a laptop − potentially puts lives at risk by taking call handlers away from genuine emergencies.

As a result of the publicity, calls to 101 grew by over 2,000 a day and those to 999 decreased by nearly 500 calls.

Chief Inspector Sally Holmes, from Force Contact, said: “Our Contact Centres are at the heart of the service we deliver.

“We recognise that the way that we handle calls in our Contact Centres has a significant impact on the public’s sense of trust and confidence in policing.

“The tweet-a-thon that we ran at the end of January gave people a real insight into the kind of calls we handle and really helped to raise awareness of the 101 number and when it should be used.”

Since the launch of the 101 number, members of the public have been encouraged to send West Midlands Police their photos of 101, wherever and whenever they see it.  Follow this link to view the photographs.

101 – The police non-emergency number

101 is the number to call when you want to contact your local police in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – when it’s less urgent than a 999 call.
Find out more information about 101 by following this link.

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