101 has been beset with problems locally and nationally since its inception in 2010. Some of this was due to a new system being introduced, and some of this was because the Government failed to inform the public adequately about it.
The issue of charging for the call is another contentious issue, and it is important you note that the phone provider and the Government receive this money, not Dorset Police.
Since becoming PCC, I have undertaken several awareness campaigns to try and ensure the public understand that 101 is for non-urgent police related calls, and that incidents which are “crimes in action” or a threat to life are 999 calls.
Sadly, even now, a vast amount of calls are received that are nothing to do with the police, and should actually be referred to another agency.
Additionally, the police receive a lot of calls that are not relevant to policing, or even other agencies, and these have been well advertised.
I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with a summary of the 101 service provided by Dorset Police, so that you have an understanding of how the system works and the progress made by the Force to improve the service delivered to the public.
A major change occurred in April 2014, when Dorset Police moved the non-emergency contact centre from Bournemouth to Police Headquarters, Winfrith, which has resulted in considerable savings for the Force. As a result of this move, a number of staff left the organisation, which resulted in a high number of vacancies. However; a rolling programme of recruitment was implemented and Dorset Police is now working at its planned staffing levels.
In the past 2 years, a lot has happened to improve the service. New software, and a triage service have been introduced, and more than 12 extra staff employed to cope with the increase in demand.
In terms of managing call demand, Dorset Police has clear priorities to minimise the risk to the public of Dorset by delivering operationally focused services in all aspects of Contact Management, focusing on threat, risk and harm.
Policing is, by its very nature, complicated and therefore calls that are of a high priority may take longer to deal with and many will be from people who have become a victim of crime or are considered vulnerable. In these instances, the 101 call will take longer to deal with to ensure the correct details are taken, appropriate safeguarding is put into place and an early investigation commences.
Other high priority calls will take less time. However, Dorset Police cannot manage calls with the assumption they will take a set time, or answered on a first-come, first-served basis, as calls are prioritised based on the threat and risk posed.
Dorset Police has call handlers answering the 101 service 24 hours a day, and the Force receives approximately 1300 ‘101’ calls per day, and approximately 300 ‘999’ calls, in addition to email enquiries.
In terms of performance, the Force Command Centre answers approximately 70% of all 101 calls within 30 seconds and approximately 94% of all 999 calls within 10 seconds.
In the last year, I have introduced a system whereby all complaints about 101 received by my office are read by me, and then referred to the Force for a full explanation to be made. I am made aware on a weekly basis of 101 performance and complaint issues.
But there is no doubt that some issues are caused because people do not accept offers of ring backs, or choose not send an email instead. You can email the Force Command Centre here and ask for a ring back.
If you experience 101 issues, you can email the Force Command Centre direct via: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a contact telephone number and one of the Supervisors will make contact with you to answer any issues you have.
Or you can contact my office at email@example.com
I am always trying to improve the 101 service, and I welcome your views on how to achieve this. If I am re-elected, I intend to set up a public user group, who will oversee complaints against the service with me, and advise the Force on ways to improve the service.
Thanks for reading this,