Devon & Cornwall Police 999 call answering times national league table

New league tables have been published showing how quickly police forces answer 999 calls and where Devon and Cornwall Police ranks in that list.

The time it takes each police force in the UK to answer emergency 999 calls has been published for the first time ever, in a bid to further improve the speed of the service provided to the public.

It is part of the government’s Beating Crime Plan to improve transparency and performance, as part of wider ongoing work to cut crime, improve public services and make streets safer.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Publishing the 999 league tables will reconnect the police with the public, holding individual forces to account and helping identify previously unknown issues, with the goal of driving up performance.”

On average across the UK, police forces receive a 999 call every three seconds. Today’s data shows 71% of these nationally are answered within the target of under ten seconds, with an overall average of 16.1 seconds answer time. This is the first time forces have been able to compare their answering times.

The first data set covers calls made between November 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022.

In Devon and Cornwall the mean (average) answering time was 21.0 seconds and the median (exact middle of all results) was 7.3 seconds, while 71% of calls were answered within ten seconds, 21% between ten seconds and a minute, and only 8% taking longer than a minute to answer.

One of the highest performing forces was Avon and Somerset, who consistently answer more than 90% of their 999 calls in under ten seconds.

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The Home Office said there was a range of reasons for disparities and the data was likely to vary each month. Prank calls, a lag time in connecting and inappropriate use of 999 to call for issues that are not emergencies can all contribute to delays in answering.

The lag time, between dialling 999 and being connected to a call-handler, can be up to seven seconds in some areas. Some police forces are already reviewing their telephony systems and working with BT to resolve this.

The data is accessible to the public via www.police.uk, where people can access their local force’s data under the 999 performance data tab. Going forward the data will be released at the end of each month for the previous month.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for contact management, said: “Today’s release of 999 performance data shows the high level of demand being placed on call handlers on a daily basis throughout the UK.

“We can see between November 2021 to April 2022, policing answered over 3.7 million calls in under ten seconds and a further 1.2 million in under 60 seconds.

“We know that most people will call the police in their time of need, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case and I would like to remind people to only call 999 in a genuine emergency.

“There is a huge amount of pressure put on call-handlers, who work tireless to provide the right support and advice in someone’s time of need, but we are far too often seeing some from within our society, inappropriately using 999.

“To them, my appeal is to be considerate that their actions may be putting someone’s life at risk.

“I also understand that some people may be concerned about whether they should be dialling 999 or not and in what circumstances. We know when a member of public calls 999 for something which is policing related, it may not be an emergency and they have to be directed to other services such as 101, which results in inadvertently taking up 999 emergency call handlers’ time.

“The message to the public is that you should absolutely call 999, but do so if a serious offence is in progress or has just been committed, if there is a threat to someone’s life, or they are in immediate danger or harm, if property is in danger of being damaged, or if a serious disruption to the public is likely.”

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez is also local policing lead with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, along with Jeff Cuthbert.

They said: “The public quite rightly expect the police to respond to 999 calls in good time, so Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will be using this data to get a grip on performance across our local forces, hold our chief constables to account and ensure members of the public are receiving an efficient and effective response when they report to 999.”

The Packet has contacted Devon and Cornwall Police for a statement about the league table findings.

Home Secretary Priti Patel 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.

“We can now see where forces are excelling and where vital improvements need to be made and I thank the police for their commitment to ensuring we maintain the best emergency services in the world.”

Falmouth Packet | News