South Yorkshire Police recruit extra staff to make it easier to contact force

South Yorkshire Police's call handling centre
South Yorkshire Police's call handling centre
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South Yorkshire police chiefs have recruited extra staff to answer non-emergency calls because of complaints over the length of time it takes to get through to the force.

They have taken on 10 new call handlers and six force crime bureau staff, with 17 other call handlers in training.

A review into South Yorkshire Police's 'contact management system' was carried out earlier this year because of the delays members of the public face when they dial 101.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said he regularly receives complaints about the 101 system, claiming some people have been left 'furious' at facing delays of up to 40 minutes to get through to report incidents or seek help.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin 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 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.

“Ensuring that the force can deliver the needs of the public is the key priority. We will be consulting with the public on how they want to contact South Yorkshire Police and will feed

all of this back in to the review. This is a lengthy process unfortunately, but we do need to get it right”.

Dr Alan Billings said: “I am aware that the IT system currently in place is over 15-years old and understand that it is not fit for purpose for today’s policing demands.

“When residents in South Yorkshire call 101, they want to be greeted by a call handler as promptly as possible. In order to do this the police need a full establishment of call handlers,

fully trained with the skills to deal with calls promptly and effectively.

"There also needs to be an adequate IT system in place to allow staff to manage their time effectively and the public need to understand that the 101 service is for non-emergency police calls and not a number to be abused.