North Yorkshire Police make improvements in 999 and 101 call answering times

North Yorkshire Police's control room.

North Yorkshire Police says it has made big improvements to 999 call handling times thanks to a review of its processes and the hard work of its Force Control Room.

The force says the time it takes to answer its 101 non-emergency line is also improving.

Figures for July 2023 show the force answered 83% of 999 calls within 10 seconds.

This is a huge improvement compared to September 2022 when 55% of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds.

North Yorkshire Police says it has achieved those improvements despite its 999 calls increasing by more than 30% in the past year.

For 101 calls, the force said in September 2022 it was answered 42% of its 101 calls in two minutes, despite its aim to answer 80% of 101 calls within two minutes.

However, by July 2023, it said it was answering 78% of the same number of 101 calls (18,000 in the month) within two minutes and fewer people were opting for call backs on its call back service.

Superintendent Fee Willey, who heads up North Yorkshire Police’s Force Control Room, said: “A big boost to our performance was the investment of an additional £1.8million by the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner.

“This provided for an additional 36 communications officers, 12 additional dispatchers, six additional trainers and two additional inspectors.

“In the control room we’ve changed our ways of working. We looked at all our processes to see what was stopping our people being efficient in their roles – what were they doing and how were they doing it? We stripped away anything that was not relevant or slowed them down.

“We found that our trained and highly-skilled call handlers were being restricted by the number and complexity of the forms that they needed to complete for every single call that they received.

“We kept any mandated question sets, but beyond that we gave the call handlers freedom to follow their own initiative, while still being able to refer to question sets if needed. This has resulted in a much speedier process to dispatch officers to incidents while still providing a succinct level of information to the attending officers.

“And the more efficient that the Force Control Room is in performing its role, the quicker that officers can be dispatched to scene.”

Supt Willey added: “We know that our 101 performance is something that has become a bit of an urban myth.

“Some of the criticism has been fair, but some not so. We often see comments on our social media pages from members of the public saying that ‘there’s no point phoning the police on 101, they just leave you waiting for hours’. Well, our 101 performance over recent months is busting that myth.

She continued: “Yes, we now have more operators in the Control Room, but a big part in the improved performance has been the support given by our Customer Service Officers who operate our public-facing reception desks across our police stations. Along with our operator service, they have removed around 30 percent of demand from our Force Control Room.

“That support, combined with a review of our processes is helping to hugely improve our call handling time.”