POLICE chiefs have admitted they are “dissatisfied with the current 101 service” which connects members of the public with their local officers.
The sorry state affairs has been brought to the attention of former Stratford Mayor Cyril Bennis who went a step further when he described the service as a “shambles” after a concerned Stratford resident told him about an alleged criminal incident near Trinity Mead which failed to receive any police response due to lack of resources.
“The resident said they tried to ring 101 on their landline and could not get through. However, when they tried with a mobile they established contact. They gave a running description of what was happening to police but were also told that nothing could be done at the time as there were no resources available. I get so angry about this sort of thing because these are serious issues happening in our society and some people are saying what’s the point phoning the police when you can’t through on the 101 number or there are no officers available? This is not a blame game and I’m not decimating our police force but the community needs protecting and the 101 service hasn’t worked properly for over ten years,” Mr Bennis told the Herald.
Worried by the resident’s story, Cyril Bennis then contacted the office of Phillip Seccombe, the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to raise his concerns.
The PCC’s office this week acknowledged there were issues with the 101 service but added that a series of important measures about to be taken -including increased funding – would deal with any outstanding problems.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “It is right that the public should be able to contact the police easily and quickly and I regularly monitor the performance of both 101 and 999 calls into Warwickshire Police. There have been recent difficulties in the performance for both, caused by increases in demand and a temporary shortage of call handlers. This has in some cases been caused by staff successfully applying to become frontline police officers. They are now going through their training period ahead of deployment onto the streets of Warwickshire, which I do see as a welcome development overall, even if it has caused some short term issues elsewhere. In the meantime I have been clear that the force needs to make improvements in how quickly they answer both 101 and 999 calls and I know that the Chief Constable shares my concerns at the recent downturns in performance. Action has been taken swiftly and I am pleased that this has resulted in the force now being able to exceed its targets of 91 per cent of 999 calls being answered within 10 seconds.
“I am also continuing to invest heavily in modernising the force’s Operations and Communications Centre. A new, state-of-the-art facility at Stuart Ross House in Warwick is scheduled to open later this year, which I am confident will further enhance the service offered to the public. A new online and incident reporting system will also be launched in the autumn, which will offer the public an easy alternative to phoning. We know from other forces around the country who have already adopted this system that online reporting is popular with the public and this in turn helps those that really do need to phone the police to get through more easily.
“I will be continuing to monitor the performance of the force’s Operations and Communications Centre but I am confident that changes that are being made will deliver an improved service to the public in the coming months and years. This is in addition to the increased numbers of police officers that I am funding, which will ensure that there are more resources available to be deployed when calls do come in.”
Full story in the latest edition of the Herald.