Commissioner hails dramatic improvement in 999 and 101 call answering times – as best results on record are achieved

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend has hailed the dramatic improvement in how long it takes Surrey Police to answer calls for help after new figures revealed that current waiting times are the lowest on record.

The Commissioner said that in the last five months, Surrey Police has seen sustained progress in how quickly callers to the 999 and non-emergency 101 numbers are able to speak to contact centre staff.

The latest data shows that, as of this February, 97.8 per cent of 999 calls were answered within the national target of 10 seconds. This compares to only 54% in March last year, and is the highest data on Force record.

Meanwhile, the average time in February that it took Surrey Police to answer calls to the non-emergency 101 number fell to 36 seconds, the lowest wait times on Force record. This compares to 715 seconds in March 2023.

The figures have this week been verified by Surrey Police. In January 2024, the Force answered almost 93 per cent of 999 calls within ten seconds, BT has verified.

In January 2024, the Force answered almost 93 per cent of 999 calls within ten seconds. The February figures have been confirmed by the Force, and awaiting verification from call provider BT.

In December last year, a report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Services (HMICFRS) highlighted concerns around the service residents receive when they contact police on 999, 101 and digital 101.

Inspectors visited Surrey Police during the summer as part of their Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) review. They rated the Force’s performance in responding to the public as ‘inadequate’ and said improvements were needed.

The Commissioner and the Chief Constable also heard residents’ experiences of contacting Surrey Police during the recent ‘Policing Your Community’ roadshow where in-person and online events were held in all 11 boroughs across the county.

Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “I know from speaking to residents that being able to get hold of Surrey Police when you need them is absolutely vital.

Lowest wait times on record

“Unfortunately there were times last year when residents calling 999 and 101 were not always getting the service they deserved and this was a situation that urgently needed to be addressed.

“I know how frustrating it has been for some people trying to get through, particularly to the non-emergency 101 during busy times.

“I have spent a lot of time in our contact centre seeing how our call handlers deal with the varied and often challenging calls they receive and they do a phenomenal job.

“But staff shortages were putting an incredible strain on them and I know the Force have been working incredibly hard to improve the situation and the service our public receive.

“Phenomenal job”

“My office has been supporting them throughout that process so I am delighted to see that the answering times are the best they have ever been.

“That means that when our residents do need to contact Surrey Police, they are having their call answered quickly and efficiently.

“This has not been a quick fix – we have seen these improvements sustained over the last five months.

“With the measures now in place, I am confident going forward that Surrey Police will maintain this level of service when responding to the public.”

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