Published 9 July 2020

Matthew Scott in Kent Police's FCR.jpg

Money raised by the Police and Crime Commissioner has helped drastically cut the amount of time people in Kent wait for their non-emergency calls to be answered.

When elected in 2016, PCC Matthew Scott was concerned that the average time members of the public were waiting for a 101 call to be answered was close to five minutes. People were frequently expressing their frustration at meetings and in writing to Mr Scott’s office.

But four years on these non-emergency calls are answered, on average, in under one minute.

Mr Scott said:

‘I added “accessible” to the list of priorities I expected the Chief Constable to deliver, and in 2018 I raised extra funds through council tax to enable the force to recruit more call handlers. Kent Police has shown what can be achieved when sufficient attention and investment is dedicated to improving public contact.’

Mr Scott’s comments come on the day Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services published a report into contact management and force control rooms. Independent inspectors reported that the public is “losing confidence in 101” nationally because “it takes too long and, in some places, calls may never be answered because staff need more time to deal with complex calls”.

Mr Scott responded by saying:

‘It is disappointing that, in some parts of the country, the public finds it difficult to contact their local force. This leads to a breakdown in trust and makes victims less inclined to report crime and anti-social behaviour.

‘I’m pleased to say that is not the case here in Kent. Between April 2018 and April 2019 average 101 waiting times fell from 2 minutes and 35 seconds to just 59 seconds.

‘Kent Police has also introduced online crime reporting and a live webchat facility for those who wish to use it.’

Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge said:

‘The 101 service remains one of the main ways in which people contact the police, and we therefore recognise the importance of answering every call as soon as possible while also promoting other methods of communication that may be preferred by some people, such as online reporting and live chat.

‘It is very pleasing that our average call waiting time has reduced significantly and is now less than a minute, and that our dedicated and skilled staff within the Force Control Room are providing an even better service than they were previously. However, we will not be complacent and will continue to invest in our staff to ensure those who wish to speak to us by phone receive a quick response.

‘Every contact we receive is important to us and we are committed to responding promptly, regardless of the contact method chosen, to ensure that we continue to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.’

The PCC continues to regularly scrutinise call data from the force. The hundreds of 999 calls Kent Police receives each day continue to be answered, on average, in a matter of seconds.

HMICFRS’ report also recognised the co-location of Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service in a single control room had allowed for “improved effectiveness and efficient use of resources”.