The Police Fire and Crime Commissioner has been asking North Yorkshire Police how they can retain call answering staff in the force control room.
Zoë Metcalf has been addressing the issue of people waiting too long for their calls to the police to be picked up.
999 calls are up to over 10,000 a month and there were 18,000 to 101 in October.
It’s still taking up to an hour to get an answer on 101
In her accountability meeting, broadcast online live, the PFC spoke to Superintendent Fiona Willey of North Yorkshire Police, lead on Customer Contact
The PFCC said: “Now you do have a lot of turnover with staff in the force control room.
“For me, it’s like how do we look after the staff, they all work extremely hard.
“The staff that leave? Do we have those exit conversations so we can gather that data as to why they’re leaving.”
Superintendent Fiona Willey replied: “It isn’t an easy job, it is actually a very demanding job with a lot of multiskilling required.
“We do know that some people come in and actually (realise) it’s not what they thought the job was. Some of them are leaving, because they see it as a stepping stone to move into other areas within the police family, which is brilliant.
“We’ve had a real mix this year of people who have gone overseas, people who say the job’s not for them and some of them say they haven’t felt valued.
“That’s something that I take personally and I will make sure that we are looking at that.
“Some have had exit interviews and some have chosen not to and those that have, we’ve taken that on board and we’re starting to look at how we can involve staff in that room more (Force Control Room) as to what we’re doing”
It’s still taking up to 9 mins on average to get an answer on 101, but many are waiting a lot longer.
More staff are being recruited but the training is complex and intense.
Zoe Metcalf questioned Mike Walker – NYP Assistant Chief Constable on the issue.
He said: “For 101 calls the service level agreement is to answer 80% of those calls in under two minutes.
“Now you can see that the 36 month average is about four and a half minutes. But for October, that’s essentially doubled to around nine minutes.
“Now, we did predict that that would be the case that we would see people waiting a lot longer on 101. We need to make sure that we now focus on getting that balance right.
“There are a lot of important calls from members of the public that we need to speak to waiting on 101s. The message to the public is we have been prioritising the 999 but we still are prioritising the answer of 101. The aim is to get that call waiting time down significantly.”
The PFCC then asked: “Can you tell me what is the longest time somebody’s had to wait on a 101 call in October, please? Because this is an average?”
Mike Walker replied: “No, I haven’t got the exact longest.
“I know that there there have been people waiting between half an hour and an hour. It’s not acceptable. This is why we have an abandonment rate of 20%. We shouldn’t be having more than 5% abandonment on 101.
“And another thing that we are doing is working with Humberside Police who have agreed to come and do a peer review with ourselves to help us with the call handling times, to help us with the processes within the control room.
“10 years ago in 2012, we were graded as outstanding in our control room and we had some forces nationally coming across to see how we achieve that.
“And so, you know, we know how we need to achieve that. It’s just a question of putting the right plans in place, having the relevant discussions and then over the next 12 months, is making sure that we get back to where we need to be serving the public in North Yorkshire with an outstanding control room.”
The commissioner replied: “I would say a lot quicker than 12 months. I know these things take time. But you know my opinion on that.”
The North Yorkshire Force has seen a massive increase in calls to both 999 and 101 over the years and says it’s committed to putting the resources in place to deal with the demand.