A recruitment drive in Cheshire Constabulary’s Force Control Centre has seen an improvement in the time non-emergency 101 calls are answered. This is following Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer, raising the issue with the Chief Constable throughout his scrutiny process.
Since taking office in May, a common theme fed back to the Commissioner has been the time it takes for 101 calls to be answered, with many people saying that they were left waiting for more than 30 minutes. This resulted in some residents either abandoning calls and not passing information onto the police or calling 999 instead.
The Commissioner raised the issue with the Chief Constable last year and they agreed to invest more in the call centre. At the most recent Public Scrutiny Meeting held on the 27 January it was revealed that the increase in staff has brought 101 waiting times down significantly, with the average wait time now being 7 minutes. This is down from an average waiting time of 27 minutes in August 2021.
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said:
“A good relationship between the police and the public is vital to a successful service. I heard far too many times the frustration felt by residents across the county who felt like they were unable to report low level crime.
“I knew this wasn’t acceptable. I brought the issue up with the Chief Constable to find out how we could rectify it and what ensued was a recruitment drive which has delivered results, with 101 waiting times coming down substantially.”
The recruitment drive saw the establishment in the Force Control Centre increase from 142 staff in September 2021 to 178 in January 2022. This number is set to be bolstered further with a further intake in staff scheduled for March. More than 90 candidates are also currently progressing with their training.
One of the responsibilities of the Commissioner is to hold the Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary to account on behalf of residents, ensuring the Constabulary provides the best police service possible.
The main vehicle for this process is the Scrutiny Board. These quarterly meetings consider the Constabulary’s performance against the priorities identified in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan as well as a wide range of performance information relating to all aspects of policing.
John Dwyer added:
“In my Police and Crime Plan, I outlined the importance of improving public confidence in policing. There are huge benefits to having high levels of public confidence in policing such as increased crime reporting, and this usually starts with a phone call.
“The investment that has been made in the Force Control Centre, and the continued investment that is planned for the next couple of years shows how important this area of policing is to me.
“Naturally, emergency 999 calls take priority in the Force Control Room, but this increased intake in staff will provide the resilience needed for non-emergency calls to be triaged effectively. This way we can ensure that all of those who need the police, no matter the severity are able to talk to someone as soon as possible.
“One person waiting too long is one too many. Through my scrutiny process I’m able to hold the Constabulary to account and drive these improvements."