Crime boss says calls service is not working
DEVON and Cornwall Police's routine calls service is "not working" and needs to be overhauled, crime commissioner Tony Hogg has said.
Some 2,000 calls a day are made to the force's non emergency number 101 by members of the public reporting crime or trying to get in touch with officers. But Mr Hogg said the service was not operating as well as it might be.
He said that was "probably" down to a lack of staff and while that could be corrected in the short term, longer term "more imaginative" solutions were required.
"I have said, bluntly, that in my view, 101 in general is not working," Mr Hogg said.
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"I would translate that into the fact that normally 101 is answered very quickly but then the follow-up is often not satisfactory in terms of either the time it takes to give an answer or sometimes, for some people, the tone of the response."
The number replaced 08452 777444 in 2011 as part of a national roll-out designed to create an easier number for people to remember. The force has long complained that many of the calls should be made to other services, including health and local councils.
Mr Hogg, who was elected to the commissioner post in November, admitted that some of his comments had upset staff working in the department.
"I know, and I have had a number of letters from police staff who work on 101, that they are disappointed in what I am saying about the system," he said. "They feel aggrieved that I said it.
"What I have said back to them is, it is not about them as individuals, and I did not infer they are not trying their best to be professional, but I suspect we need to do something imaginative there. We need to recognise that a small percentage of the calls coming through are policing- related. We might combine 101 police inquiries number with that of local authorities and other people running inquiry systems. I think there is much we can do there to improve the service right across the piece. It is just a matter of probably initially upping the resources and looking at the training for operators. Perhaps later on having a much more imaginative answer to a combined system which would probably be more effective and save money. It is a complex area but at the end of the day, at the moment, the public requires a better service and we need to acknowledge that."