DORSET Police have failed to meet their target in handling non-emergency 101 calls for abandonment rates and call answering times.

Reduced performance has been put down to flooding earlier this year and disruption caused by the merge of the police enquiry centre and force control room to a new centre in Winfrith.

At least 75 per cent of non-emergency calls were answered within 30 seconds but the figures dropped from 71.8 per cent to 67.3 per cent in 2013/14.

The number of non-emergency calls abandoned increased in the same time from 4.9 per cent to seven per cent.

The figures were put before Dorset’s Police and Crime panel in a draft annual report by Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill.

One of the PCC’s six priorities is to increase people’s satisfaction with policing which includes emergency and non-emergency call analysis.

The report said the reduced performance concerning non-emergency calls was due to performance in May, June and July.

It said: “Performance improved following a number of interventions through late summer and into the autumn with calls answered in 30 seconds exceeding 70 per cent in the discrete months of October, November and December 2013.

“However, the flooding and poor weather in January and February saw an increase in call volumes which in turn had an impact on answering times and abandonment rates, affecting average performance across the year as a result.”

The move to a new control centre in Winfrith, which is now operational, is set to save approximately £1.3 million per year.

It is expected to make a total saving of £5.4million by 2018/19.

Dorset Police said the move had caused ‘short-term disruptions to services’.

The draft report, which will be available for the public, laid out what exactly had been achieved by the PCC in the last y

Emergency call handling exceeded the target for abandoned calls and fell just below the target for call answering in 2013/14.

Almost 95 per cent of emergency calls were answered within 10 seconds A total of 94.9 per cent of emergency calls were answered in 10 seconds in 2012/13 which decreased to 94.5 per cent in 2013/14.

The percentage of 999 calls abandoned went from 0.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent.

  • POLICE and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill says he had already ‘raised concerns’ over the performance of the 101 service.

In the draft annual report he said: “During the first part of 2013/14 financial year a number of concerns were raised by the public and local councillors to me over the performance of the 101 service, particularly with regard to waiting times when making a call.

“As a direct result of this public feedback I formally raised my concerns in a public letter to the Chief Constable, requesting that she took steps to address this problem.

“As a result, the recruitment of additional telephone operators and upgraded technology took place.

“This has seen an upturn in performance although it is accepted that further improvement can be made.”

Recent changes caused ‘temporary dip’ in service

SPEAKING about the move to a new control room in Winfrith, Jane Jennings, head of contact management, said: “The recent changes have caused a temporary dip in our service.

“I would like to apologise for this and assure the public that we are actively recruiting more staff into the force control centre to improve waiting times and overall performance. We receive a high volume of calls during peak hours so would like to advise the public to call outside these hours in an effort to reduce call waiting times and make use of the resources we have available at all hours of the day.

“Our peak times are between 9am and 1pm, and 4pm and 7pm. People also wait until Monday morning to report incidents that occurred over the weekend so Monday is our busiest day.

“I would like to remind the public that the force control centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So the best approach is to phone us as soon as the incident happens, particularly if it happens at the weekend.”