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Guest blog: Answering your emergency calls

Posted: Thursday 3rd October 2019
Blog: October

Comms Dept (4)

Demand for emergency services is increasing and in the world of policing it is imperative that we look at new and innovative ways to deal with growing demand to ensure we are able to support our communities when they need us most.

2018 saw the introduction of Integrated Voice Response (IVR) within our Police Control Room.  It provides an initial triage on our 101 non-emergency telephone line and helps direct the call to the right team member or department.  This has proven very successful; in 2019 we have already received over 446,000 calls to us on 101 and over 20% of these callers have had their call resolved through the IVR, that’s roughly 90,000 people getting the help and support they need quickly and efficiently without needing to speak to a call handler who can be dealing with 999 emergencies.

Utilising technology in such ways has resulted in Avon and Somerset being ranked as one of the best performing police control rooms in the country; in 2019 our average answer time for a 999 emergency call is 1.4 seconds. We strive to always keep improving and want to offer outstanding policing service to everyone, day or night, 24/7. 

In January 2019 we launched a new 101 call-back service.  At times of peak demand it provides the caller with a call back option, allowing them to keep their place in a queue and to receive a call back from one of our call handling team to reduce wait times on the phone.

Since its inception in January, 7473 people have taken up the option of a call back. On average, people will be called back within 8 minutes.  Not only is this a better option for the caller as they do not have to wait on the line or try  again later it also means that as a Police Force we are in a better position to answer 999 calls from the public.

We want to be there when people need us, whether an emergency or a general enquiry and since 2015 we have been working hard to improve the timeliness of the service we deliver whilst ensuring the quality of the contact is never compromised. We have seen a large reduction over this time in the number of people clearing the line on 101 without having had their call picked up.

Many people now go online to report incidents using our quick and easy reporting forms – they can be uploaded via a mobile phone or tablet as well as a computer.  Our website allows easy access to report non-emergency matters and submit enquiries and a reference number is provided at the time of submission.

The Force provide a service called the Ride Along Scheme where you can sign up to spend some time with various parts of the Force, including the control room.  You are able to come and sit alongside a Police Call Handler or Dispatcher and see what their role entails. For more details, please see our police website. We’d love to have you visit and see for yourself what a day in the life of the control room is like. https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/services/ride-along-scheme/

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