The 101 service in Devon & Cornwall has been given more money to improve it after the Commissioner, Tony Hogg, described it as ‘not fit for purpose’. The good news is that 999 works well. This statement comes from the Devon & Cornwall Police website and press release:
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “We are pleased and reassured that the emergency 999 service remains strong, even when demand is high. This is our absolute number one core function and overall this service is consistently good. We accept, however, that our 101 non-emergency service is not as good as we want it to be. I must add that this is absolutely not a criticism of the men and women who work in the control rooms in Plymouth and Exeter. These people have an incredibly challenging role and I am grateful for their hard work and commitment.
The management of non-emergency calls to police is an incredibly complex area. A fundamental part of the performance improvement to the 101 service was the introduction of a new telephony system. This was expected to be in place by autumn 2015. This will address many of the points made in the OPCC’s report. Unfortunately in final testing last year, a vulnerability was found that would put the force network at an unacceptable risk and further software development is now being undertaken with a re-scheduled delivery in May 2016″.
Chief Constable Sawyer adds: “This delay in introducing the new telephony system is incredibly frustrating for us as we know this will be a significant step forward in delivering a 101 service the people of Devon and Cornwall rightly expect.
“We know that the more calls we can deal with at the first point of contact is cost efficient and quicker for the caller. Progress is being made in this area. For example, 67% of all calls we receive are through 101 and we are now resolving 40% of those calls at the switchboard without passing the call onto another unit or person – that is a significant improvement compared to 12 months ago.”
One area that is being developed and is expected to further improve the police non-emergency service is through alternative contact methods such as email, online reporting and web-chat along with improving web content to allow the public to ‘self-serve’, often avoiding the need to contact the police altogether.
Chief Constable Sawyer said: “The public already enjoy this convenience in other areas of their lives and the police recognise that we have some way to go in improving the digital services we offer. We have already begun this journey and I am confident this will transform the way the public contact the police in the future.
“There is no single solution that will provide an efficient and acceptable 101 service to the public. Much work is being progressed in this area though I fully accept some changes have taken longer to complete than originally anticipated.
“I welcome the support and commitment from the OPCC and his generous offer of a cash injection up to £250,000. This is a significant sum which I will seek to put to good use to address those areas where an increase in budget will accelerate the delivery of improvements to the 101 service.
“Finally, I want to give an assurance to the people of Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly that my team and I take this issue extremely seriously – I accept it has been challenging bringing about these improvements within the timescales, particularly given the complexity of this business area and the recent economic backdrop we’ve been operating in – but I give you my commitment that in six months from now the performance of the 101 non-emergency system will be on an improving trajectory to deliver an acceptable service to the public.”