South Yorkshire Police ran out of cells for suspects as force sturggled with new year demand

South Yorkshire Police ran out of cells for suspects arrested over new year – with officers forced to take them to custody suites in neighbouring counties.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:56 am

The force was so busy over New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day that suspects arrested for offences had to be taken to custody suites in West Yorkshire and Humberside as South Yorkshire’s cells were all full.

To highlight the level of demand South Yorkshire Police faced, the force has revealed that during one 15-minute period on New Year’s Day, the force received a 999 call every 12 seconds.

A total of 2,647 calls were made to the police force’s Atlas Court call centre on New Year's Day – up by 348 on the year before.

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Between 11pm on New Year's Eve and 5am on New Year's Day, there were 1,014 calls made, of which 699 were via 999.

Calls regarding public disorder, violence and criminal damage generated particularly high demand.

Assistant Chief Constable Lauren Poultney said: “There is no doubt our teams were working extremely hard overnight into New Year's Day, both within Atlas Court and out in our communities, to keep people safe.

“What is disappointing is that some of the calls which came into us simply wasted our time and prevented us from directing our resources towards those who truly needed us.

“For example, we received a number of calls shortly after midnight from young people who were laughing down the phone. They clearly thought it was a big joke and failed to realise the potentially serious consequences of their actions.”

Between 1.15am and 1.30am on New Year's Day, the force received some 88 calls to 999 - more than five calls every minute, or one every 12 seconds.

ACC Poultney added: “Busy nights like New Year's Eve are always challenging for our call handlers.

“Our message regarding calling the police is clear - call us in a genuine emergency and your call will always be answered and prioritised.

“Those who call in a non-emergency, particularly on typically busy nights like this, will face a longer wait for their call to be dealt with.

“Please think before you call - and remember you can also report certain crimes online, as well as reporting other incidents, submitting complaints and enquiring about lost or found property.”