Police Commissioner Demands Improvements To 101 Phone Service

police phoneThe Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner says the force’s non-emergency 101 phone line is ‘unacceptable.’ And he’s ring-fenced a quarter of a million pounds to improve it.

It follows the publication of a report, ordered by Tony Hogg, into how the service is performing.

The study found that the average call waiting time for non-urgent matters has almost doubled to more than 8 minutes and the proportion of callers waiting for more than 10 minutes has increased from 13% to 32%.

Mr Hogg says Police management have a poor understanding of the performance of the phone service, which “suggests a lack of focus on public call handling.”

He says the report “demonstrates a poor state of affairs.”

Mr Hogg says the introduction of new technology has been delayed by over twelve months and improvements can’t be made for a further six months, which he says is “immensely frustrating.”

He added: “At a time when we have been reducing some face to face contact though the closure of public enquiries offices, it is vital that our phone contact system is fit for purpose – it is not.  There is a lack of police management focus in this area and that needs to change.”

But Mr Hogg was keen to lay the blame with Police managers and not control room staff, who he said, “work really hard and provide a good service when they get to deal with members of the public.”

He says they work under very high pressure, using poor technology, and there are not enough of them.

Mr Hogg says he expects to see “a significant drop” in the number of callers having to wait for more than ten minutes over the next few months, before he leaves office in May.

The 101 service was introduced at St Mary’s Police Station in May 2014, with the installation of a blue phone box outside the entrance. This allows members of the public to access the 999 or 101 lines at any time of the day.

Since then, contacting Scilly’s police team directly on the local number has been discouraged.