Over 175,000 abandon crime calls to South Yorkshire Police over 101 waits

South Yorkshire Police's call handling centre
South Yorkshire Police's call handling centre
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Almost 180,000 calls to South Yorkshire Police’s troubled 101 non-emergency line have been abandoned in the past two-and-a-half years, it has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information request has also shown over 6,000 people scrapped 999 calls in the same time period.

The request, published on the What Do They Know website after being submitted by investigative journalist Neil Wilby, showed that in 2014/15, 57,000 calls out of the 687,000 made to South Yorkshire Police’s 101 number were abandoned - over eight per cent of the overall total.

This increased to 12.3 per cent last year, with 82,000 of the 666,000 calls scrapped by people hoping to contact the police about crimes.

So far in the 2016/17, the percentage of abandoned calls has increased again to 12.5 per cent.

Of the 321,000 calls made to 101, over 40,000 people put down the receiver before reaching an operator.

It comes after police and crime commissioner Alan Billings said last month that he had received ‘numerous complaints’ from members of the public about the line, with waiting times of up to 40 minutes for calls to be answered highlighting.

He said the current IT system being used to handle calls is more than 15 years old and ‘not fit for purpose’.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin, who is leading a review of the current system, said last month that the situation is beginning to improve.

He said: “In May 2016, the performance of the contact management department was such a concern that a critical incident was declared.

“I am pleased to say that now in November 2016, we are seeing some significant improvements and the public should now be seeing the results.

“We knew that demand on the service had changed, the working patterns were out of sync with demand and the systems and processes were not effective enough.

“A review and refresh of the workforce strategy was completed. This has resulted in ten additional call handlers and six force crime bureau staff.”

He said further staff are being trained, with more vacancies yet to be filled.

Dr Billings said: “When residents in South Yorkshire call 101, they want to be greeted by a call handler as promptly as possible.

“I will continue to ask South Yorkshire Police for updates on how this review is progressing.”