COMMENT: For one in five callers to hang up is not good enough

England manager Gareth Southgate

WORLD CUP COLUMN: Thirty six years on, when WILL we get it right?

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THERE’S not much point in mincing our words here – the fact that one in five calls to the 101 number is abandoned by the caller is wholly unacceptable.

It’s shocking and should be embarrassing to all concerned.

In the first half of this year 19 per cent of calls were abandoned – up from 15 per cent over the same period last year.

Thankfully the numbers of abandoned 999 calls are much smaller, but have still increased – from less than one per cent last year to 1.5 per cent this year.

The 101 number is sold to the public as being for non-emergencies, which is all well and good, and should help free up the traditional 999 number for bona fide emergencies. But when you can’t even get through and abandon the call in frustration, it gives the impression that the police force simply doesn’t care.

We know this isn’t the case – ask any officer on the street, and we are sure they could tell you just how much they care about their jobs and what they do. And in the control room, there are only so many calls that any individual is able to handle in a shift. But in this day and age perception is key, and if people don’t think the police are listening, it undermines trust.

It sounds like an overhaul of the system is long overdue.

Of course, there is still an element of misuse of the numbers, and this is something they police are seeking to address through public information campaigns.

And it is unrealistic to think that the number of abandoned calls will be completely cleared.

Hampshire police say they are bringing in a system for call handlers that will help improve the situation. We hope that this new system is £27m well spent, as it is an awful lot of money to simply be a white elephant.

The answer will be in the numbers next year, and we will be watching with interest.