Dorset Police warn of call waits due to Covid staff shortages

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Dorset Police said many of those who were unable to visit their office were able to work from home

More than a third of a police force's control room staff are off work because they either have Covid-19 or have been told to self-isolate.

Dorset Police said it came at a time when 999 calls had increased 21% since last week and 101 calls were up by 11%.

A spokesperson said many of those affected were able to work from home and respond to non-urgent calls.

But they said callers to 101 "may have to wait some time" to speak to someone, as 999 calls were being prioritised.

About 35% of control room staff were not working due to the issues. The BBC has asked the force how many workers that equates to.

The force said a total of 6% of its staff - including those working in frontline roles and other non-critical positions - were currently self-isolating.

"Some frontline functions are more impacted that others," the spokesperson said.

'Use online channels'

A record number of people using the NHS app were told to self-isolate in the week up to 14 July.

NHS figures show 618,903 people in England and Wales were told they had been in contact with someone who had later tested positive for coronavirus.

Self-isolation for all fully-vaccinated people pinged by the app as close contacts is due to be scrapped from 16 August.

A Dorset Police spokesperson said people should use online non-emergency channels, including its website, where possible.

"Please remember, only dial 999 in an emergency - when life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby, or immediate action is required," they said.

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