70 per cent of callers get through to South Yorkshire Police's 101 number within two minutes, according to new figures

Almost 70 per cent of people phoning South Yorkshire Police's 101 number have their call answered within two minutes, fresh statistics have shown.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 11:38 am

The figure rises to 83 per cent when the deadline is extended to three minutes.

The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has insisted the objective is to improve on those results.

Questions continue over the way the Atlas Court call centre performs, with Rotherham councillor Stuart Sansome, vice chairman of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, the body which holds Dr Billings to account, arguing that callers who end their calls in frustration after waiting for an answer are not counted in those figures.

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It has also emerged the ‘clock’ only starts after callers have heard taped messages, adding more than a minute for those holding the receiver.

Coun Sansome argued that while he could not challenge the accuracy of figures produced by South Yorkshire Police, the feedback he and council colleagues got from the public painted a different picture.

He said he had ‘no wish to challenge the legitimacy’ of the figures provided at a meeting of the panel, but added: ‘I feel they are false figures’.

That is because they do not include abandoned calls and he suggested a ‘call back’ system, used at busy times to allow callers to leave details for a return call later, should be extended to a 24 hour option.

“The only way to get trust and confidence back is to have a system which works without abandoning calls,” he said.

According to police, call abandonment rates are down by 10 per cent recently.

Dr Billings told the meeting on an average day South Yorkshire Police take 2,383 telephone calls, with 759 on the 999 system, where the average wait for an answer is 13 seconds.

The average wait for the rest is eight minutes, but the bulk of calls are answered much more promptly.

Performance has been helped by the installation of a new £12m computerised call handling system.

Dr Billings conceded the real issue was demand from callers, with the force now trying to weed out unnecessary calls, such as those who ring to query why take-away food has not been delivered.