Warwickshire’s 101 police service which is used for reporting non-emergency incidents is not good enough according to the man tasked with overseeing law and order in the county.
And he urged those struggling to get through to treat it just like any other call centre and to ring back if their call wasn’t answered.
Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire’s police and crime commissioner, gave his verdict at the latest meeting of the county’s police and crime panel on Friday (March 22).
Cllr Tony Jefferson, of Stratford District Council, said crimes were going unreported because the system was not working.
He explained: “Looking at the data, the number of calls to the 101 service is down by 4,600 and the abandoned rate is up to 16.6 per cent. Anecdotally I pick up a lot of comments from people who say they cannot get through, that nobody responds and then they give up.
“Quite a lot of crime is not being reported and part of that to me would seem to be the performance of the 101 service.”
Those figures referred to the final three months of 2018 but figures from February this year showed the number of calls being abandoned had risen even further to 19.1 per cent - nearly one in five.
Mr Seccombe said extra call handlers were being taken on to help reduce the waiting time.
He added: “101 is not good enough. The service needs improving and as a result the chief constable has recruited another five permanent members of staff to go into our control centre with the intention to create a further five.
“All I would say is that this time last year our 101 and 999 figures were not particularly good and quite rightly the chief constable focussed on the 999 response. We now have 92 per cent of those calls answered within ten seconds which is above the standard and one of the best in the country. That is the good news but it is the same control room taking the 101 calls so if you prioritise the 999 calls it is bound to have an effect on the 101s.
“I occasionally ring 101 either to test it or because I want to report something and I’ve not had a problem, getting through within ten or 15 seconds. Sometimes they’re busy and it’s like any other call centre, if someone’s busy you have to ring back.”
Councillors heard that new technology could also help with voice recognition software directing callers to the right department while an online reporting system similar to that used by other police forces also being developed.