Hundreds of 999 calls dropped as Hampshire police develop £27m new system

A police 101 call handler
A police 101 call handler
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POLICE are forking out £27m to revamp a system used by call handlers as it emerges thousands of calls to 101 and 999 have been abandoned.

Major work is being carried out by Hampshire police, along with Thames Valley Police, with the hope it will launch in January.

It comes separately as police are this summer experiencing a surge in 101 and 999 calls.

Figures show 993 out of 63,134 calls to 999 were abandoned between June 2016 and 2017, compared to just 525 out of 56,146, in the previous 12 months.

And 33,556 calls to 101 were abandoned, up from 26,341 calls last year.

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane told The News ‘too many’ people are dropping calls waiting for an answer and the new system – being designed with Microsoft – will add ‘huge value’.

He said: ‘I understand that there are too many people that are dropping the calls.

‘There are too many people that wait for an answer.’

Mr Lane added: ‘I don’t want that to happen any more.’

Changes to the system will allow police to flag repeated callers as useful or vexatious if they are abusing the system by making vexatious calls.

Mr Lane said: ‘I really think it’s going to add huge value, it’s going to remove a lot of pressure from the end of the phone, making it faster and differently accessible to them in a way that people have been wanting for a while.’

Separately police last week warned people to call 999 and 101 only when needed, saying there had been a huge spike in calls.

John Apter represents rank-and-file officers as Hampshire Police Federation chairman. He said: ‘The technology will help but in addition to this we still need the people to take the calls and deploy the jobs.

‘There needs to be investment in technology but that investment needs to be in people as well.’

He added officers and staff in ‘control room and on the ground are struggling’.

Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt said: ‘Replacing a number of existing systems, the command and control platform will be used to record all of our contact from the public – whether reported online, by telephone or in person – and the majority of this contact will be managed within our call centres.

‘The platform will also be used within the police control room to manage crime and incidents, and the deployment of officers to the public in emergency and non-emergency situations.

‘It will enable us to provide a more victim-focused response, and provide more information to the call handler to enable us to tailor our response to the needs of the caller.

‘This is particularly important when dealing with people who are vulnerable.

‘The platform will also provide us with all the information we need in one place to improve our efficiency in identifying the appropriate response, and provide control room operators with better visibility of available resources and understanding of local crime issues.’