Wiltshire Police driving forward improvements to 999 call answering times

Wiltshire Police are driving forward a series of improvement measures which are aimed at cutting the time it takes to answer 999 calls.

The latest national figures show that Wiltshire Police answer emergency calls in an average of 16.63 seconds – slightly longer than the national average response time of 16.1 seconds.

However, according to their own data, they are confident that emergency calls are answered within ten seconds. The figures released today by the Home Office do not account for technical issues linked to how their telephone provider processes incoming calls.

This issue is recognised nationally and discussions are ongoing to resolve them.

Chief Inspector Doug Downing, who runs Wiltshire Police’s Contact Centre, explained that the discrepancy was partly caused by technical issues around how the telecoms provider processes incoming 999 calls.

He explained: “Regardless of how call times are measured, we remain committed to reducing call waiting times for the public. Our dedicated staff are working incredibly hard to achieve this. Last month our operators received more than 6,500 999 telephone calls from the public.

Chief Inspector Downing added that the Force is very much focussed on improving call quality, identifying repeat victims and identifying vulnerabilities at the first point of contact.  This includes a robust quality assurance process which has seen dedicated assessors sampling over a thousand calls since February.

“Our number one priority remains the assessment of threat, harm, risk, and identifying vulnerability at the first point of contact with the public. But a close second is rapidly responding to 999 calls – it’s something my team are passionate about.

“As part of our drive to reduce call times, we are exploring new systems which should help reduce some of the demand on our call handlers, by allowing officers to update incident logs themselves – freeing up our call handlers to respond to the public.”

He added that a recruitment drive is currently underway to bolster staffing of the control room, which ultimately will help speed call answering times.

According to data collected by Wiltshire Police, their Contact Centre recorded:

  • 30,309 999 calls in the year up to April 2022.
  • In April 2022, our handlers answered 8,468 999 calls with an average wait of nine seconds.

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