Duran Duran: Ordinary WorldiTunesAmazon

Duran Duran: Ordinary WorldiTunesAmazon

Call for improvements to 101 service

Call for improvements to 101 service

Published at 3:47pm 21st November 2015. (Updated at 4:05pm 21st November 2015)

North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has revealed that fewer than a third of people know to call the police using the 101 phone number in non-emergencies.

Julia Mulligan commissioned a study in response to concerns that the system is not working well and is deterring people from reporting crime.

The research included an online survey involving people from across England and Wales, as well as a group specifically from North Yorkshire.

It suggests that the 101 number is confused with other three-digit numbers including 111 - the NHS non-emergency helpline.

Mrs Mulligan: "The 101 number was introduced to help people report incidents to their local force easily and to reduce pressure on the 999 emergency line.

"So three years after its launch, it’s worrying that awareness of the number is so low. However, with the Home Office reviewing the service, these new insights couldn’t have come at a better time and will hopefully highlight the need to raise awareness of the number and understanding of when to use it."

Results from the survey of North Yorkshire’s 101 service:

  • 14% of people using 101 to report an incident or concern abandoned their call to the service - with callers typically waiting more than a minute for their call to be answered.
  • At 10%, the rate of abandoned calls in North Yorkshire for callers who have waited more than a minute is twice as high as the police’s own national target of 5%.
  • Awareness of the 101 number is higher in North Yorkshire than it is nationally - with 45% of residents knowing the force’s non-emergency number is 101 and 38% of residents saying they know to dial 101 in a non-emergency situation.
  • 75% of callers were either extremely satisfied or very satisfied with the call handler.
  • The public want more feedback from the police after reporting an incident or passing on information.
  • The public were happy to contact the police via other means, such as via the website or text message, which will now be explored further.
  • 40% found that their experience of getting through to someone was better than expected.
  • 88% found the 101 telephone menu system was easy to use and navigate. Most felt that the four menu options were sufficient to meet their needs.

Mrs Mulligan added: "Members of the public often tell me about their frustrations with the 101 service. So I was very keen to understand the reasons for their concerns in detail.

“The report paints a mixed picture of the 101 service in North Yorkshire, with people typically waiting longer than we would wish to get through. However, it’s clear that once their call is answered, callers are very satisfied with the service they get from the police.

"The fact that awareness of the 101 is so low both in North Yorkshire and nationally has to be a key cause for concern. It means that some crimes and anti-social behaviour won’t be reported and that valuable intelligence will be lost because people genuinely don’t know how to contact the police - other than via 999 or visiting a police station, for example.

"Another major worry is that one in seven people ringing 101 abandon their call. Locally, that’s around 2,800 calls per month - most likely due to the time it takes for their call to be answered.

"Now that we have clear evidence of the issues, I am keen to do all I can to help the force improve the service they provide. The Government too needs to pay heed as it is currently considering the way forward for the national 101 contract."

Responding to the report, Chief Superintendent Amanda Oliver, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We are always looking for ways to make our service as accessible and effective as possible, so we welcome this report as one of a number of pieces of research that are helping us to hone in on areas where we might improve.

"The 101 service was introduced nationally in 2011, and other national reports show that the use of the service across the country has trebled since that time. It is heartening that this latest survey shows that North Yorkshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to awareness of 101, but it is still clear that we need to take every opportunity we possibly can to remind people of the 101 non-emergency number and when to use it.

"It is interesting that a percentage of people think that 911 - the American emergency services number - is the number to call for a non-urgent situation, which is probably down to US cop shows on TV. It shows how powerful these things can be, and just how hard we need to work to get 101 recognised against a background of so many other conflicting messages."