Non-urgent police calls 'go unanswered'

 
Telephone operators The data shows most calls were answered within the 30 seconds target

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Hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the new police non-emergency 101 number are going unanswered, figures from forces in England and Wales suggest.

The number was introduced for people to report crimes such as drug dealing, car theft and property damage.

But people hung up or were disconnected before a reply 496,000 times between January and October 2012 - 4% of calls.

Thirty out of the 43 police forces provided information to the BBC after a Freedom of Information Act request.

But not every force supplied all the details requested.

The other 13 forces were contacted but said they did not collect such data or were only able to provide incomplete data.

Steve White, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the figures "demonstrate that members of the public are clearly finding it more difficult to report crime".

He said: "While the government insists that crime is falling, despite the significant cuts to the police service, the high volume of unanswered calls suggests that many offences may be going unrecorded.

"Crime recording is extremely complex in its nature, as these figures highlight."

'Complex review'

Many forces aim to answer 101 calls within 30 seconds but the data shows six - South Wales, Northamptonshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and Surrey - took longer than that on average.

The time varied between 35 and 57 seconds but in the case of South Wales Police was 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

In two instances, callers to South Wales and Northamptonshire Police, had to wait more than 50 minutes before someone answered. According to the data provided, the two forces also had the highest percentage of "dropped calls" - those where people hang up or are disconnected.

Start Quote

Lost calls can be inflated in periods of high demand and therefore inaccurately inflate figures”

End Quote South Wales Police

The data provided shows eight of the forces answered in under 10 seconds on average with Kent, Suffolk, Devon and Cornwall and Merseyside proving to be the fastest.

The UK's largest force - the Metropolitan Police - answered its 101 calls in an average of 14 seconds.

South Wales Police said: "There have been periods where the introduction of new processes and technology have impacted on the number of calls answered and the waiting times.

"Lost calls can be inflated in periods of high demand and therefore inaccurately inflate figures… when we are dealing with major incidents such as Olympic Games, international rugby events, protests and murders we will on some occasions leave a 101 call unanswered whilst we respond."

Northamptonshire Police said the number of calls received "which were answered quickly - or at all - fell well below customer expectations".

The force said its call handling unit had undergone a complex "change review" to achieve savings and improve services which resulted in a breakdown in performance monitoring.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland introduced a single non-emergency number in 2005 - 0845 600 8000.

A 101 non-emergency phone number was introduced in Scotland in February this year.

101 performance by force

Force Calls answered Answered within 30 seconds Calls dropped Average time taken to answer** Longest time taken to answer **

Source: Figures supplied by each force. Covers period Jan-Oct 2012. Notes: *Includes all non-emergency calls. ** Time in hours, minutes and seconds (hh:mm:ss)

South Wales *

380342

40%

17.4%

00:02:45

00:52:18

Northants

236619

65%

18.9%

00:00:57

00:53:19

Dorset *

225006

71%

5.3%

00:00:49

00:23:54

Staffordshire

326676

67%

7.2%

00:00:39

Figures not supplied

Greater Manchester

50637

51%

7.2%

00:00:35

Figures not supplied

Surrey

318238

79%

12.3%

00:00:35

00:28:35

Hampshire *

590755

Figures not supplied

8.6%

00:00:30

00:24:47

Cumbria

131720

79%

8.9%

00:00:28

00:27:09

West Mercia

159385

70%

6.8%

00:00:28

00:29:48

North Yorkshire

189183

81%

Figures not supplied

00:00:27

00:12:50

Gwent

95808

85%

10.3%

00:00:21

00:14:23

Derbyshire *

559471

Figures not supplied

Figures not supplied

00:00:20

Figures not supplied

Avon & Somerset

594427

84%

1%

00:00:18

00:20:43

Nottinghamshire *

301059

88%

2.3%

00:00:17

Figures not supplied

Hertfordshire

188408

91%

3.2%

00:00:16

00:32:16

Lancashire

156363

Figures not supplied

0.7%

00:00:14

Figures not supplied

Metropolitan *

2413755

89%

2.8%

00:00:14

00:43:00

Cambridgeshire

339636

90%

Figures not supplied

00:00:12

00:18:52

Leicestershire

70249

91%

3.4%

00:00:12

00:14:07

Essex *

764339

93%

2.1%

00:00:11

Figures not supplied

Cleveland

54677

Figures not supplied

1.2%

00:00:09

Figures not supplied

North Wales *

322498

Figures not supplied

9.1%

00:00:09

Figures not supplied

Wiltshire

180835

71%

1.8%

00:00:09

Figures not supplied

Northumbria *

297347

94%

Figures not supplied

00:00:08

00:39:25

Merseyside

154223

96%

4.1%

00:00:07

00:04:15

Devon & Cornwall *

538438

100%

6.2%

00:00:06

00:06:50

Suffolk

122400

Figures not supplied

Figures not supplied

00:00:06

Figures not supplied

Kent

295889

98%

1.5%

00:00:05

00:14:47

West Yorkshire

563167

71%

4.6%

Figures not supplied

Figures not supplied

Thames Valley *

828743

91%

1.8%

Figures not supplied

Figures not supplied

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 241.

    I find the basic assumption that people always call 999 in an emergency misleading. Some old people especially prefer not to bother the emergency services.

    Point is, no-one can know how many of these calls were emergencies because no-one bothered to answer the phone. Disgraceful lack of respect for the public who they are supposed to serve. Dock their gold-plated pensions.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 240.

    Not surprising really, the police are just not interested in insignificant issues.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 239.

    237.neil - Im disabled and once lived on a council estate in Blackburn,,at one point i had 6 armed blokes trying to get into my house,i phoned the police,,and there responce,,"what do you want us to do about it",,,this countries a joke!!
    Gosh, what happened? Did they succed and beat you up? Did you manage to fight them off? Or did they just go away when they heard you calling the police?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 238.

    Because the staff that answer the calls were all made redunant because the Government cut funding to the police!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 237.

    Im disabled and once lived on a council estate in Blackburn,,at one point i had 6 armed blokes trying to get into my house,i phoned the police,,and there responce,,"what do you want us to do about it",,,this countries a joke!!!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 236.

    I have used 101 twice, on both occasions the person answering was polite, helpful and reassuring.

    These call centres handle millions of 101 & 999 calls each year anyone of which could be from people in deep distress...I for one would not want that level of responsibility each every day. I am also sure they have to deal with thousands of time wasters upset because their pizza has not arrived.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 235.

    230. Joephus Coventry
    " they can concentrate on the far more lucrative and easier job of hiding behind a hedge with a speed camera!"
    i would like to point out to you that the police don't force you to speed, it is stiil illegal and dangerous to lives.







    i would like to point out no one for

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 234.

    Luckily I have not had to call either number recently. However, in the past I have used the non-urgent full length number and it could take a while so I suspect that, if the new number is used more, there will be a longer wait. I always report minor crimes against my property just to make sure the figures reflect reality.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 233.

    I have cornwall police actual no, not automated ,not 101, got through immediately, but then get nowhere as they badger me big time for how I got there No, they wouldn't listen to what I was going to report. So I hung up

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 232.

    I've been in a situation where people were being assaulted and weapons (large wooden sticks) were being used. 999 was called 3 times in a 2 hour period with no response, until the next day. Officers were apparently dealing with another incident. So to learn that this other number is being ignored comes as no surprise to me.
    I admire the hard work the police do, but they are woefully under staffed.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 231.

    #229 I'm always curious when people criticise an entire profession as 'not worth the money we pay them' what that particular posters profession is?

    Just to show good faith I'm a cancer immunologist with a little bio-tech firm.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 230.

    Another example of public sector incompetence. However from the police's perspective if they can restrict the ability of the public to report minor crime it will create the illusion of low crime, and they can concentrate on the far more lucrative and easier job of hiding behind a hedge with a speed camera!

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 229.

    Our police are not worth the money we pay them. Frankly many are lazy clock watchers. They should all work shifts of 40 hours per week with one months holiday and limited sick pay. They should be paid on performance. If they don't like it there are thousands of people in this country would take the job on the above conditions. If they go on strike sack the lot and bring the Army in the interim.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 228.

    Staggering how people constantly run down the police service. If anyone can name me any organisation where people are not put on hold then I will be very surpised. I waited for 20 minutes for my local hospital to answer the telephone the other day but I wouldnt say the hospital was terrible and doing a bad job. Somehow this logic never seems to be applied to the police.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 227.

    226.Michael Lloyd
    It was not so long ago that I waited at green traffic lights to let a police car go through, flashing blue and tooting. I followed it; the driver switched off the horns and blue lights and drove normally - what emergency?
    Is it possible that the emergency had been dealt with.. that there were enough police there already or they had be redirect to another call?

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 226.

    "220.
    Justin
    How many of those police cars that go screaming through red traffic lights and up the side of queing traffic are going to 'non-urgent' calls?"

    Excellent point. It was not so long ago that I waited at green traffic lights to let a police car go through, flashing blue and tooting. I followed it; the driver switched off the horns and blue lights and drove normally - what emergency?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 225.

    Lots of moaning on here. Come on how many people do the Police have to answer the phone? Are there hundreds sat there waiting for your Non Urgent report. When they take the details they have to log the call on the computer and send it to the right Department. So all that takes more time. It would help if you knew what position you were in their phone queue. Now theres an idea....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 224.

    It doesn't matter if you call 999 because 101 is not answered. I tried phoning 999 for a non-urgent (in THEIR opinion) matter a couple of years ago and they literally hung the phone up mid sentence!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 223.

    220. Justin
    How many of those police cars that go screaming through red traffic lights and up the side of queing traffic are going to 'non-urgent' calls??
    --
    Can't speak for the police but every time an ambulance trips a red light camera its numberplate is checked against its call log. An ambulance driver running reds to get to his lunch break quicker will get sacked.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 222.

    204.Pete
    So many comments removed . All critical of the police. Tells you something doesn`t it?

    As you have the ability to KNOW why comments are being removed. Maybe you should get a job answering these calls.You could "filter" out the spurious calls without even picking up the phone...

 

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