Leeds & West Yorkshire

Fifth of calls to West Yorkshire Police the 'wrong type'

Call handling centre in Wakefield
Image caption West Yorkshire Police's 999 and 101 call handling centre is based at their Wakefield headquarters

A fifth of 999 and 101 calls made to West Yorkshire Police are not matters the force can deal with, it has said.

The force said its Wakefield headquarters had been fielding an increasing number of calls better suited to local councils or social services.

There has been an increase in calls relating to mental health issues due to council cutbacks, police said.

August saw 1,000 additional emergency calls a day compared to 2015.

The increase has prompted a call handler recruitment drive.

Recent time-wasting emergency calls include one from a man with a pizza "with not enough pepperoni" and a man needing a "lift to Halifax", the force said.

Image caption West Yorkshire Police is in the process of recruiting 46 additional call handlers

The 999 and 101 call handling department has over 200 staff, with an additional 46 being recruited to help reduce 101 call waiting times.

Tom Donohoe, head of the contact centre, said a rise in calls during August was because of an increase in alcohol-related incidents related to the warm weather.

He said: "In the past month or so, we have seen a dramatic increase in the volume of calls and we have taken all necessary steps to ensure that every call is dealt with."

The number of calls West Yorkshire Police are not able to deal with has risen to a fifth due to "misdirected calls" which should be going to other agencies, Mr Donohoe said.

"It can be an extremely rewarding role, as the call handlers help someone literally in their darkest hour, but can also be frustrating as we deal with many calls which are not for the police."

Big events dealt with by WYP's call handling centre

  • The shooting of MP Jo Cox - 300 additional 999/101 calls over three hours
  • Yorkshire 'sonic boom' - 700 additional 999/101 calls over two hours
  • M62 hen party crash - 300 additional 999/101 calls over three hours

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