Wiltshire Police taking steps to answer 999 calls faster after national figures ranked the force mid league table
Steps to decrease the amount of time it takes Wiltshire Police to answer 999 calls are already being taken, after a national league table showed the Force ranked mid-table when compared to other police areas.
National targets mean that police forces should answer emergency 999 calls within 10 seconds but, according to data collected by BT on behalf of the Home Office published today, it takes 16.63 seconds for a call to be answered in Wiltshire Police’s control room on average. The national average is 16.1 seconds.
Figures collated by Wiltshire Police themselves suggest the majority of 999 calls are answered within 10 seconds but this does not include the first few seconds of a call which are answered by BT operators before being routed through to the correct police force area.
Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, has acknowledged these statistics are not where he would like but has said he is reassured the Force has already initiated measures that should see a significant improvement.
Steps being taken include exploring new systems to help reduce demand on call handlers by allowing officers to update incident logs - freeing up call handlers to respond to the public. A recruitment drive is also currently underway to bolster staffing in the control room.
Improving the service that the public receives from Wiltshire Police is top of Mr Wilkinson's agenda and he continues to monitor and challenge the Force’s performance, as well as addressing it directly in his Police and Crime Plan.
He said: “Quite rightly those ringing 999 in an emergency expect their calls to be answered immediately and what today’s league tables show is these calls aren’t being answered as quickly as they should be by Wiltshire Police.
“While there may be some discrepancies between the statistics collated by Wiltshire Police, and those provided by BT, today’s figures are a more accurate depiction of a caller’s experience when calling 999.
“People call 999 because they are in a genuine emergency or because there is a crime in progress. They are reliant on the police in their moment of need and while I am reassured to know the Force is making rapid adjustments to improve the time it takes for them to answer calls.
"In order to maintain public confidence in Wiltshire's policing service, we must start to see improvements in weeks, not months.”
In response to these statistics, residents of Wiltshire and Swindon are being asked to take a few minutes to tell police chiefs about their experiences of the 101 and 999 services, as well as preferences for future modes of contact.
The survey, run by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), will help inform police forces, the Home Office, and Police and Crime Commissioners on any challenges around reporting to the police and assist in forming plans for the future.
“I’m keen to better understand the public’s views on their experiences of contacting Wiltshire Police and I’m urging as many people as possible to respond to the survey,” Mr Wilkinson added.