North Yorkshire Police are working to improve their response to 999 calls.
That was the message today after new data showed that North Yorkshire scored the worst median time for picking up 999 calls of any UK force, at 14.7 seconds.
It was also one of only five forces to answer less than half their 999 calls within ten seconds – meeting that target 44% of the time.
North Yorkshire Police’s lead for contact management, Assistant Chief Constable Lindsey Butterfield, welcomed the Home Office data today.
She said this showed “the high level of demand being placed on call handlers every day”.
And she paid tribute to “the dedicated team of staff who handle our calls within our Force Control Room work incredibly hard, in a very challenging environment”.
Police are tasked with answering 90% of 999 calls in ten seconds, but only one force has met that target.
Asst Ch Constable Butterfield said: “Currently, we’re achieving that target 44% of the time. This falls below the standard that our communities deserve, and we are working hard to immediately increase that rate so people in need of our help get through to us quickly.
“Whilst there are a number of factors which impact on the speed at which 999 calls are answered, we recognise that we are not staffed to meet our current elevated levels of demand and we are investing in a number of measures to make improvements and get calls answered quicker.
“This includes putting in place enhanced recruitment plans for more staff within our Force Control Room.
“We expect to have recruited 10% above our establishment by September 2022. The additional 10% allows for the levels of staff turnover that we experience.
“We have also established a pool of reserve staff to deal with administrative tasks on behalf of the call takers in the Force Control Room. The additional costs for these interim arrangements have been funded by North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.”
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe has also responded to the figures.
She said: “The national performance figures for 999 calls show that call-handling times in North Yorkshire are simply not good enough.
“My office is already working closely with the Chief Constable and Force Control Room to address the main challenges and set out ways to deliver significant improvements.
“When people call 999 they are often at their most vulnerable and most frightened. The chief knows that we must ensure we support every caller at this time and not keep them waiting – and she also knows that I will hold her to account for improving the service.
“My monthly public accountability meetings are already monitoring call-handling performance closely, with the aim of delivering a step change in our 999 and 101 services as a priority.
“We will next look at this aspect of police service, at the next meeting on Thursday 23 June. It’s important that I pay tribute to hard-working colleagues dedicated to their key roles in the control room, whose work saves lives and keeps people safe – but the chief knows that I expect to see positive and swift progress made to the overall service.”
See more and comment on the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner website.