West Yorkshire Police gets handle on ‘embarrassing’ 101 call issues

West Yorkshire Police has been recruiting call handlers at unprecedented levels.
West Yorkshire Police has been recruiting call handlers at unprecedented levels.

West Yorkshire Police is making significant progress in turning around “embarrassing” problems with its handling of non-emergency calls, according to a senior officer.

The force said it had been recruiting call handlers at an unprecedented rate as it sought to respond to the record levels of demand faced by its customer contact centre.

A report presented to the county’s police and crime panel yesterday said there had been dramatic reductions in the number of people abandoning calls to the 101 number while they waited in the queue.

But it was accepted that there was still more work to be done, particularly in changing the public’s perception.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle told panel members: “Last year our abandon rate was an embarrassing 17 per cent. The average queue time was between three and four minutes. We’re not proud of that.”

The report said the abandon rate for 101 calls had been 6.6 per cent in January, with the average queue time as low as three seconds and public satisfaction rates of 94.5 per cent when it came to ease of contact.

It said: “We have been recruiting at a pace we have never attempted before and this is starting to yield benefits.”

The force’s 999 performance has also improved, despite an 8.8 per cent increase year-on-year in emergency calls.

Later this month, a new “state-of-the-art” call handling system is due to be installed at the customer contact centre in Wakefield to give manager real-time updates.

Mr Battle said further recruitment was also planned ahead of the anticipated summer peak in calls.