POLICE in North Yorkshire are receiving the highest number of emergency calls since records began – with the force currently answering more calls a day than they do on New Year’s Eve.
North Yorkshire Police say they have had the highest number of 999 calls ever this month. They have also seen a significant increase in calls to 101, the non-emergency number.
The rise is thought to be caused by lots of people coming to North Yorkshire on staycations, as well as the easing of lockdown restrictions and an increase in incidents, assistant chief constable Mark Pannone said.
“We are seeing a significant increase. Typically we are getting about 300 calls to 999 a day in June.
“On New Year’s Eve in 2020 we for 293 calls. New Year’s Eve is always one of the busiest days of the year. To be consistently getting above what we get on New Year’s Eve on a daily basis shows the level of calls we are getting.”
The force has answered 8,423 calls to 999 in June so far, he told a North Yorkshire Police Fire and Crime Commissioner meeting on Tuesday June 29.
It marks a new high – beating the previous record high last month in May of 8,203 calls. By comparison the force received 4,295 emergency calls in June 2020.
“We are seeing double the number of 999 calls that we got a year ago,” ACC Pannone said.
North Yorkshire Police aim to answer 90 per cent of 999 calls within 10 seconds but are not currently reaching that target.
However, the rate of abandoned 999 calls is low and if a call is not picked up, it is referred on to another group of staff to be answered.
Police have recruited eight new staff and are planning to create six more full time roles in the force control room to tackle the increase in calls.
The volume of calls to 101 has also risen, with police receiving an average of 100 more calls a day to the non emergency line than previous levels.
ACC Pannone said there are plans to increase the online reporting systems, roll out a quick chat mechanism, alter shift patterns to ensure more staff are working at busy times and create a new team to deal with initial inquiries from the public.
North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott said: “There’s public concern out there about particularly the 101 number. We do need to try harder. I welcome what you are doing in terms of digital engagement.
“I would like you to take it one step further and actually publicise live on the internet call waiting times and if it doesn’t work, you can take it off.
“For a lot of people, calling the 101 number is their only contact with the police and if they can’t get through they will probably give up on it.”
He said he is looking at putting more cash from the budget towards the control centre.
Phil Cain, deputy chief constable, said the force is looking at upgrading its technology and added: “Just to reassure the public, calls are an absolute priority. We recognise that performance is not good enough at the moment.”