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22 September, 2017

Force Control Room changes aim to improve call handling service

Callers to North Yorkshire Police should start to see an improvement in service following the introduction of a range of measures designed to help deal with an unprecedented increase in calls.

999 calls to the Force Control Room have increased from 4,911 during January 2017, to 8,551 in the month of August. Calls to the non-emergency, 101 number have also shown an increase from 21,045 during January to 24,017 during August.

North Yorkshire Police has introduced a number of changes intended to improve service and reduce call waiting times.

The changes include:

  • The introduction of an operator service. A caller can now hold for the operator if they are unsure which department they require or have a general question. The function was introduced on 2 August and takes an average of 324 calls per day. At present it is staffed by control room staff, but 10 new operators are being recruited and will be deployed according to demand. They are due to start work over the coming weeks. These staff are in addition to the 20 new staff currently being recruited for the control room and will deal with general queries and the triage of calls requiring further assistance.
  • The introduction of a call-back facility on the non-emergency line. This allows a caller to request a call back during times of high demand rather than wait in a queue for their call to be answered. Following its introduction on 30 August, it has received positive feedback from members of the public who have used it. To date, an average of 115 callers per day request this option. The abandonment rate of non-emergency calls is also showing a downward trend
  • From 5 September, Crime Recording and Occurrence Management (CROM) administrative tasks were removed from the Force Control Room and are now carried out by a separate department. This has taken 14,000 admin tasks away from control room staff per month, allowing them to focus on call handling and customer service.

In addition, longer-term projects to introduce changes in how we work will be implemented in the new year and these will have an impact on the Force Control Room. In the first quarter of 2018, the force will be upgrading its command and control system with a more modern and user friendly version which will help speed up processes and contribute to overall efficiency.

During the first half of 2018, a phased roll-out of operational mobile devices will see a gradual reduction in requests for system checks – such as people, vehicle, and address checks  – from front-line officers, as the new devices will allow them to conduct their own checks on the spot. This will ease the demand on control room staff.

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “I am here to speak up for the people of North Yorkshire, and they have said loud and clear that the 101 service is not good enough.  Given that feedback, I have raised this continually with the force, and it now forms a specific part of my monthly scrutiny meetings.

“I know the Chief Constable understands those concerns and is committed to improving the service as quickly as possible.  A number of initiatives are now in place that will address some of the wider problems being faced by the control room, and I will be watching very closely to make sure the service improves as we expect it to.

“Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and officers working in the control room for their continued hard work in sometimes very challenging circumstances.”

Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward added: “We acknowledge that our call handling speeds have dropped following a dramatic increase in calls to the control room. Earlier this summer, we began a series of changes to deal with the increase in demand and bring call handling times back up to our usual good standard.

“Some of these changes have now come to fruition and callers are already receiving a better service. We know there is still a long way to go, and I thank members of the public for their patience and understanding as we work to bring about these changes, some of which will take time to implement.”

2017 – Call volumes by month

Month 999 calls Non-emergency 101 calls
January 4,911 21,045
February 4,893 19,898
March 5,587 24,463
April 5,855 22,868
May 6,625 25,387
June 7,076 26,115
July 8,189 26,898
August 8,551 24,017