Bedfordshire Police said that it has reduced the average waiting time for 101 calls from over 15 minutes to less than five after staffing was increased and the system was updated.
Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, holds regular public meetings with the force to be updated on how it is policing the county.
The Delivery and Beating Crime Meeting is also an opportunity for the PCC to put questions and concerns from the public to the senior policing team.
During the meeting this week (21 February), the PCC passed on the concerns a Central Bedfordshire councillor had with how the force handles 101 calls.
“[The councillor] wants to know about the improvements being made to our 101 service and can you give a brief update on how calls that come through to 101 that are reporting crime are handled,” the PCC asked.
Sharn Basra, the assistant chief constable, said the force has looked at two ways to deal with resourcing issues in the Force Contact Centre (FCC).
“One is the actual staffing numbers, and the second is the process,” he said.
“We’ve got an open recruitment campaign going on as we speak to get more people into the control room and we’re also supplementing the staff in there with some of our own cops.
“We realized that to enable us to meet the expectations of the public, namely answer the calls when they are in need, we do need to put some cops into the FCC in the interim whilst the new staff get trained, so we’ve done that.
“Anyone who’s phoned 101 will know that we recently introduced an interactive voice response system to manage you as the caller and your call, and the nature of your call, by putting that in we’ve included a priority status in terms of 101 as well.
“Since October, our wait times for 101 have gone down considerably, which is excellent news for our members of the public, and we are answering 101 calls in less than five minutes.
“Previously the average time was in excess of 15 minutes.
“I went into the room this morning and on a busy Monday morning, bearing in
mind that we’ve had the storms, etcetera, there was no one waiting in the queues.
“So the reassurance that I can give you and to the councillor is that we’ve tackled this challenge on two fronts one by increasing the resourcing in there and secondly by improving our processes to make sure that we’re fit going forward for the demand that we face,” he said.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter