West Midlands Police says that it is now one of the best performing police forces in answering calls for help within just 10 seconds after spending the past 11 months transforming the way it answers 999 and 101 calls. Police officers are now arriving at the most serious incidents in an average of 12 minutes which is two minutes faster than in March 2023.
In December 2022, the force only answered 78 per cent of emergency calls and 40 per cent of non-emergency calls. It said that this was ‘simply was not good enough and not the service we wanted to provide to the communities of West Midlands Police.’
After a bruising report from HM inspectorate of constabulary late in 2022 which saw it moved into special measures, the force started work in January 2023 to completely change the structure of its Contact Centre including increasing staffing, investing in its people and the facilities in which they work.
The force was graded as ‘requires improvement’ for its contact with the public according the the police inspection body. The inspectors said it needed to focus on three areas: making sure the force answered calls quickly enough; reducing the number of non-urgent calls abandoned because they were not answered quickly enough; and doing more to meet its published targets for attending calls.
Since April, West Midlands Police Contact Centre has answered over 430,000 emergency calls, 91 per cent of these calls have been answered within 10 seconds with the average call taken within six seconds. The force said it was answering non-emergency 101 calls within three minutes compared to last year when the average wait time was over 29 minutes.
“I am incredibly proud of the work of all staff across Force Contact who work every day to keep the communities of the West Midlands safe. Working in a control room is a challenging and rewarding career where you can make a real difference. Every shift offers something new and almost 80 per cent of calls for service are resolved directly by Force Contact staff. They truly are at the front line.
“We need people with resilience and patience because at times when the public contact us they are not thinking straight and it is our job to get the relevant information from them quickly and efficiently.”Chief Superintendent Ian Parnell, Head of Force Contact, West Midlands Police.
The force is using this improvement to encourage the public to consider a role as a force contact centre officer.