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Police Miss Targets In Answering 999 Calls

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8:01am 12th October 2014

Police in Cornwall and Devon insist they are picking up 999 calls quickly enough.

This after statistics showed, from May, targets to answer 90% within ten seconds were missed.

Bosses are blaming the busy summer.

They say they are hiring extra staff but if you look at the year overall standards HAVE been met.

Sandy Brooks, Head of Call Management and Communications Unit, said: "Although we have not achieved our target since May 2014, within the last rolling 12 month period we have answered 90.2% of 999 calls within 10 seconds and 90.7% of non-emergency calls within 30 seconds.

"The increase in demand over the summer months can prove a challenge as we see an increase in the number of calls but not an increase in the number of staff. In May we introduced a new crime recording system which is better able to capture information to enable us to respond more appropriately to victim's needs.

"By their very nature, 999 calls receive a priority response. All calls, both emergency and non-emergency are important to us. Our call handlers are very skilled people and each call is assessed on the individual needs of the caller, based on the threat, risk, harm and vulnerability of the caller or incident. To assess each call, takes time, to ensure we understand the issue and respond according to need. We do not use scripts but rely on the expertise, knowledge and skills of our staff to assess that need using their training, experience and guidelines to ensure the correct response is provided based on individual needs.

"Our call handlers deal with all types of calls and demand, operating the Switchboard to 'triage' calls, creating incident logs, giving advice, recording crime reports both to the public but also to internal officer calls to electronically record crime and answering 999 calls.

"I am extremely proud of my staff and the role they do, in very challenging circumstances. The level of complexity and knowledge they have and apply is not seen in other more 'typical' call centre environments. It is every bit as important to ensure we get it right, not just get it done quickly."

She added: "We have advertised for additional staff, and received over 300 applications. The Force has provided additional funding to allow us to recruit to 8% above our funded post levels to ensure we can provide the public with the service they expect and deserve.

"We are creating electronic versions of a crime report to enable officers and staff the ability to directly record crime themselves, freeing up call handlers time to focus on the publics' needs.

"We are reviewing our shift patterns to ensure that the right number of resources are working at the right times to meet our fluctuating demand across all of our business.

"We are procuring a new Call Handling System to ensure that modern contact methods can be utilised to increase the ways in which the public can contact us but also to ensure that the IT is working most effectively in support of our goals and commitments to serve the public."

8:01am 12th October 2014

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