Durham Police’s 999 call response time third worst

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New figures released by the Home Office revealed that Durham Police on average, answered just 41% of 999 calls within the official target of 10 seconds, during the six-month period between November 2021 and April 2022.

Only one UK police force, Avon and Somerset, met the target of answering 90% of calls within 10 seconds. In contrast, Durham fell far below the nationwide average of 71% of calls being answered under 10 seconds, with only two police forces performing worse in meeting the 10 second target – Humberside (2%) and South Yorkshire (17%).

This is the first time that national statistics have been published showing how quickly police forces answer 999 calls, although they do not account for how long it takes for a police officer to get to the scene of an incident from the time of a call.

The Home Office said there was a range of reasons for disparities – prank calls, a lag time in connecting, and inappropriate use of 999 to contact police for non-emergencies.

“We are taking steps to improve our performance”

Durham constabulary spokesperson

On the publication of the data, Home Secretary Priti Patel MP said “Calling 999 can literally be a matter of life and death. The public deserve to know that their local police force will be at the end of the phone, ready to leap into action at seconds’ notice to protect them from harm.

“Fundamentally, publishing this data is about driving up standards in our incredible emergency services even further, so that the public can have every confidence in the police’s ability to save lives and keep our streets safe”.

A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: “We are taking steps to improve our performance: installing a new telephony system which will go live early next year; bringing in an extra 12 call handlers on top of our normal recruitment; exploring new technologies which will enhance our call handling ability and trying to reduce inappropriate use of 999.

“We are confident these measures will further improve performance over the coming year. We have also invested additional resources into our response teams to improve the total time between the initial phone call coming in and a police officer reaching the scene to deal with the emergency”.

Image: aebrooks via Creative Commons

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