Increased 999 call delays no surprise for a struggling service

19 September 2017

Vice Chair Calum Macleod

Vice Chair Calum Macleod

A BBC report highlighting that the number of abandoned 999 calls more than doubled in the 12 months from June 2016 is of little surprise considering the current climate policing finds itself in.

That was the view of Calum Macleod, Vice Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, as a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to forces in England and Wales showed a rise of abandoned 999 calls from 8,000 to 16,300 across 32 (of 43) forces able to provide information.

Mr Macloed said: “It’s not a difficult equation. If you take 40,000 police officers and staff out of the service over the last eight years while at the same time increase demand on those left, especially in having to manage non-police related enquires, then something has to give.”

The report also outlined the number of 101 non-emergency calls abandoned has risen by 116% June to June, with 230,000 more calls abandoned.

The number of 999 calls across the UK overall has risen by 15% in the year to June 2017.

Mr Macleod told the BBC that he was certain the safety and security of the public was being compromised as a result of current demand on police.

He said: “Recorded crime is actually rising so you are seeing more incidents every day, and there's less visibility so the public is feeling less secure in their day-to-day environment.”

He also outlined the impact felt by officers saying: “Officers constantly go from one call to the next with little respite and this type of demand is playing havoc with their health and welfare. Our own welfare survey found that stress levels across the police service are twice as high as levels seen across other working sectors.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd, the National Police Chiefs' Council's lead for contact management, said that some hard choices were having to be made.

He said: "We senior police officers are charged with taking the funds that are made available to us and delivering the best service we can to the public. Against the backdrop of increasing demand, that does prove for some hard choices."

The Federation has been clear that the government needs to invest in the police now, providing the required resources so that it can carry out its primary responsibility, which is the safety and security of the public.