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Non-emergency calls to Cambridgeshire Police being abandoned

image captionAround 10% of non-emergency telephone calls are abandoned before being answered by police

Police in Cambridgeshire are failing to answer a number of non-emergency calls from the public, according to a quarterly performance report.

Figures submitted at a meeting of the Police Authority Scrutiny Committee show that up to 10% of calls are abandoned before being answered.

A spokesman said "a decline in service was anticipated" as changes are made to the force's call handling system.

He added that this had "not affected response times for emergency calls".

In May, Cambridgeshire Police removed their public switchboard function, transferring all non-999 calls to the Police Service Centre (PSC).

Between May and June, the number of calls to the PSC rose from an average of 700 a day to in excess of 2,000.

The force has set itself a target of answering all non-emergency calls within 30 seconds.

However, over the summer between 8% and 10.5% of people telephoning the centre abandoned their calls before they were answered.

'Close monitoring'

"The force has made several business changes to its non-emergency call handling service to ensure it reduces cost," a spokesman said.

He added that the service would be improved when Speech Dial, an automated call handling system, is introduced in October.

Alterations to the system are being made as part of Operation ReDesign, the force's strategy to reduce costs following cuts to its annual budget.

The spokesman said that changes to call handling would not affect the 10-second target for answering 999 calls.

"The restructure has already started to take effect. Call waiting times have already improved over the past few weeks and this will be closely monitored," he said.

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