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27 January, 2023

Commissioner Zoë invests £1.8 million to improve 999 and 101 call handling

Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe has announced that she will invest an extra £1.8 million into North Yorkshire Police’s Force Control Room to transform how quickly calls are answered and re-instate confidence amongst the public.

This follows an extensive proposal put forward by North Yorkshire Police detailing how a three phased approach aims to stabilise the current performance challenges for 999 and 101 calls over the next 12-18 months – whilst also ensuring the wider Customer Contact Function is fit for the future and continues to meet the needs of the public in the longer term.

The Force Control Room operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days of the year with a range of staff roles to support its function. The Communications Officers, provide call handling, radio dispatch and manage the police response to incidents. These roles have been identified for significant investment to support current and growing demand.

Other job roles impacting the success of the Force Control Room, include an established Learning and Development Team. An increased establishment of Control Room Inspectors to manage critical incidents and assess threat and risk.

In what is a huge piece of transformational work, Commissioner Zoë has been assured that her £1.8 million investment will:

  1. Fund 36 additional communications officers, 12 additional dispatchers, 6 established trainers and 2 additional police inspectors.
  2. Streamline the after- call administration activities by reviewing call handling processes to ensure that staff spend as little time as possible on after-call work, freeing them up for the next incoming call
  3. Allow for detailed work to understand and deliver process efficiencies by reviewing all processes within the customer contact function to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.
  4. Provide new ICT technologies with Implementation of additional tools to help manage the workforce, ensuring that resource meets demand as well as introducing an element of automation when processing an incident, freeing up the communications officers to enable them to take further calls.
  5. Ensure the Force Control Room has the additional staff it needs to meet demand in the long-term
  6. Explore and develop alternative ways to advance people and technology to meet the needs of the public offering a variety of channels.

Commissioner Zoë said:

“I strive for people to have trust and confidence in North Yorkshire Police when picking up the phone to dial 999 or 101, however last year’s national performance figures for 999 calls showed that call-handling times in our county were simply not good enough, and whilst there have been improvements, more needs to be done.

“I recognise that the Force Control Room is a frontline service and that highly trained specialist staff work in what is an incredibly challenging and high-pressured environment, dealing with individuals in our communities when they are most in need, and often at their most vulnerable.

“Not everyone can work in an environment like that, I know that I couldn’t, but the staff are there because they have a vocation, and they want to help the public without any delays – so they share the public’s frustration when response time isn’t what it should be due to the sheer volume of calls that they’re dealing with.

“I have listened to the concerns raised with me by the public about 101 and 999 call wait times, and I asked the Chief Constable to present me with a range of options to ensure that the public can reach the police quickly in an emergency, and in a reasonable time for non-emergency situations.

“Based on what the Force has told me, I am confident that this £1.8 million investment will not only generate tangible improvements to call wait times which the public should experience directly, but that these new resources will also support our fantastic staff within the Force Control Room to be able to reach the public quickly.

“The Chief Constable knows that a brighter spotlight is shining on the Force to deliver on the improvements set out in their proposal, and I will closely monitor progress made over the next year whilst continuing to hold her to account.”

Updates will be provided to Commissioner Zoe through her monthly Public Accountability Meetings which are broadcast live on her YouTube channel. Details of upcoming meetings can be found here: www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/police-oversight/governance/governance-process/corporate-scrutiny-board/

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker from North Yorkshire Police said:

“This significant investment will help us further improve the customer contact experience for members of the public.

“We recognise the importance of providing the best possible service when people need to contact the police so “customer contact” is a key priority area for the force.

“Along with every other force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland we’ve seen an increased demand in calls over the last 24 months. We’ve made significant changes within the Force Control Room to improve systems and processes to help us deal with the increased calls to service.

“The dedicated team of staff who handle our calls and online reports within our Force Control Room work incredibly hard in a very challenging environment.

“This investment will enable us to further improve our training and development for current staff and introduce new staff to help relieve some of the current pressures on the service.” 

As part of Commissioner Zoë’s work to improve Public Trust and Confidence in North Yorkshire Police, an ongoing survey has been launched to help gauge the level of existing trust and confidence amongst communities. Members of the public can complete the survey here: https://bit.ly/TrustConfidence