New figures show the rising demand in 999 calls across North Yorkshire.
Numbers released today by North Yorkshire Police show that 7,409 emergency 999 calls were dealt with by the Force Control Room (FCR) in May 2018.
At one peak time, the handlers answered 61 emergency calls in just 30 minutes.
And between May 2017 and May 2018, the number of 101 calls handled by the FCR has increased by nearly 10,000.
The figures show the rising demand being placed on the FCR, police say, with the number of 999 calls made in May 2018 increasing by 17.5 per cent compared with call numbers from the previous month (which was 6,307 999 calls) and a 12 per cent increase on the same point last year (which was 6,625 999 calls).
Control Room Manager Jane Larkin said :“Unfortunately we do get instances where people call us to ask for a lift because they have missed their train, or report the fact that their local take away has closed early. These calls could be preventing a genuine emergency from getting through to us. So please – help us to help you and only dial 999 in an emergency.”
Despite this, 999 calls made in May 2018 were dealt with by the Force Control Room within an average of eight seconds.
The force said 20,469 101 non-emergency calls were also received, with callers experiencing an average waiting time of one minute 55 seconds.
Again a similar increase in volume was seen, with the number of 101 calls rising by 15 per cent on April’s 2018 figures (17,793 101 calls)
Speaking about the ongoing changes in demand, Charlotte Bloxham, Chief Inspector for the Force Control Room said : “Since summer 2017, we have seen a huge increase in the number of calls coming through to the FCR, and these latest figures suggest that demand shows no signs of slowing.
“Last year, all police forces across the UK saw a huge leap in call figures. Here at North Yorkshire Police, we saw call 999 volumes increase from 4,911 calls in January 2017 to a peak of 8,551 in August 2017.
“Taking note of the changing demand picture, we have made some fundamental changes within the FCR, which have allowed us to handle the continuous pull on resources and ensure calls are answered as quickly as possible.”
“Recruiting more call handlers, improving our auto-switchboard and voice recognition software and introducing an operator and call back service for 101 calls has also paid dividends. Average waiting times for 101 calls have been between one to two minutes for some time now.
“If 101 call waiting times reach three minutes, callers are now given the option to request a call back, to prevent people waiting for extended periods of time. In May 2018, the average time it took us to make the call back was 15 minutes after the request had been logged.
With the recent investment of £3 million from the Police and Crime Commissioner, more is being done to at the FCR.
A recruitment campaign is currently underway, to further strengthen the workforce and a newly built call centre facility is due to be unveiled soon at Fulford Road in York.
Improved training and tutoring are being introduced, to allow staff to be coached in smaller groups, more quickly, enabling new recruits to become operational as soon as possible.
State of the art IT equipment is to be installed and a dedicated Crime and Occurrence Management Unit is being established, to take over the responsibility for crime recording, freeing further resource within the FCR.
Speaking about the future plans, Control Room Manager Jane Larkin said: “We are dedicated to ensuring that all calls to police are answered swiftly and dealt with efficiently. With the changes made in the last year and more improvements to come, we are confident we have all the resources in place to meet the increasing demand head-on.
“Our call handlers work incredibly hard in pressurised circumstances. However, over the first three months of 2018 our call taking times for 999 calls averaged 8.3 seconds and the average waiting time for 101 calls was one minute, 28 seconds.
“We’re here to help the public of North Yorkshire when they need us the most. We fully recognise that responsibility and we are incredibly proud of the level of service we deliver.”