North Yorkshire Police improves 101 answering times

A call handler in North Yorkshire Police' control centre. Photo: Sgt Paul Cording/NYP.

North Yorkshire Police, which has faced years of intense criticism over the amount of time it takes to answer calls, has seen a significant improvement its control room operation.

The force, which saw an outcry after 30,000 non-emergency calls to the service were abandoned in nine months of 2016, has been praised as its average delay in answering such 101 calls fell to just over two minutes.

In 2017, after the introduction of operator and call back facilities, and a queue-buster system the average time taken to answer a 101 call fell from a high of three minutes, 35 seconds.

Commissioner Julia Mulligan introduced major changes to the force control room, creating space for extra staff and a training room and taking on more than 70 extra staff. Despite this, issues with response times persisted.

However, a meeting of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel heard further actions had been taken to improve response times and the percentage of calls waiting for more than 15 minutes had reduced from almost 20 per cent during last summer to 2.54 per cent in the last three months of the year.

During the autumn only 0.57 per cent of 999 calls waited more than two minutes, compared to some 28.62 per cent in the previous quarter.

Mrs Mulligan said a major upgrade of the force’s website this week would enable residents to contact the force digitally more easily, and should lead to a significant reduction in calls to the control room and improvements on response times.

The online services are being launched for matters ranging from traffic incidents and poor driving to civil disputes and firearms licensing. The panel was told within four minutes of people being able to upload dashcam footage to the force’s website the first video was posted.

The commissioner said a back-up control room had been created in Harrogate in case of the pandemic affecting staff at the main control room in York.

She said: “There is definitely a degree of greater confidence in North Yorkshire Police about the future performance of the force control room now which is good to see. There has been some significant issues around staffing, but those are largely resolved now.”

York councillor Ashley Mason described the operational changes as “really positive”. He added: “It’s obvious lots of progress has been made. It was a big issue that’s obviously on the right track.”