Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire Police calls problems blame on staff shortages

Staffordshire Police control room Image copyright Staffordshire Police
Image caption Staffordshire Police said it was recruiting an extra 19 call handlers

A lack of staff is to blame for Staffordshire Police taking nearly twice as long to answer phone calls from the public, the force has said.

New figures show people who called the 101 non-emergency number in July waited on average for two minutes, an increase of 45 seconds from three months ago.

The force also answered just 78% of 999 calls in July within 10 seconds. Its expected target is 90%.

It said it was employing 35 more staff and upgrading its call handling system.

Staffordshire Police closed its control room at Hanley Police Station earlier this month.

'Recruitment drives'

It moved staff to a new larger call centre for the whole of the county at its headquarters in Stafford.

The move was expected to save about £980,000 a year.

The force said 19 call handlers from Hanley did not relocate and about 20 officers were to stop answering phones to return to front-line policing.

It said it had about 140 call handlers taking more than 700 emergency and non-emergency calls every day.

Ch Insp Pete Owen said: "It's taken us by surprise the number of staff who decided not to travel from Hanley to Stafford and subsequently our call handling times have dropped.

"We've got recruitment drives ongoing at the moment, another 19 staff are joining us in October and we're installing new call technology in the next few weeks which will improve services for people who ring us."

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