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Rise in police emergency calls leads to meeting to discuss options to deal with demand

THIS WEEK (July 17), Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a meeting of the Policing Accountability Board where discussions took place around the continued rise in demand for emergency response.

The data presented to PCC Dafydd Llywelyn at the meeting showed that not only the demand is rising, but there has also been an increase in the average call duration since December 2022, with concerns raised by PCC that this has an impact on the average speed of answer.

In response to the concerns, and with the summer school holidays upon us, where demand is expected to increase again, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn has called on the public to consider the best way to contact the police in non-emergency situations, encouraging the exploration of alternative methods to dialling 101.

The focus of the Policing Accountability Board meeting, which was held at Gwernyfed High School, Three Cocks, Brecon, Powys, was on Priority 1 of the 2021 – 2025 Police and Crime Plan: Ensuring victims are supported.

Under this priority, the PCC requests the Force to demonstrate efficient and effective responses to the public’s calls for help, which would support accurate levels of crime recording, and the identification of victims.

Accurate crime recording includes monitoring overall volumes and trends for 999 & 101 calls, with Dyfed-Powys Police presenting the PCC with a paper on 999 and 101 data at the meeting.

The data showed that between July and December 2022, the Force experienced an average of 9% more 999 calls per month compared to the same period in 2021. This increase peaked in August, with the Force Command Centre dealing with 18% more calls during the month than the year before.

Demand for emergency response continues to rise, with the greatest increases seen in May 2023 (34%) and June 2023 (51%). This equates to an average of 1,816 additional 999 calls per month. This situation mirrors other Police Forces who have also seen an increase in their levels of 999 call demand.

Samsung updated their Android mobile phone emergency SOS call service feature in late April this year, which had a consequential and adverse impact on the 999-emergency service. This saw a significant increase in the number of 999 calls received by Police Forces across the UK and created unprecedented demand within the Force Communication Centre within Dyfed-Powys Police. This, in part, explains some of the increases in 999 demand experienced by DPP, for May and June. Samsung have since released a fix for the SOS emergency feature and it is pleasing to note that the 999 demand has now reduced in volume, however, still shows as an increase in 999s received.

Dyfed-Powys Police 101 call data showed that over half of 101 calls related to non-police matters or requests for advice and guidance. These types of calls take longer to be answered as the Force prioritises higher-risk calls.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said, ‘I am pleased to report that DPP has one of the highest performing FCCs in the way it triages calls, assesses needs, identifies repeat victimisation and provides crime prevention advice. It is a fine balance between delivering this high standard of care and answering calls quickly.

‘Better handled calls take longer to resolve, meaning call handlers are busy for longer and therefore unable to take new calls as promptly. However, call handlers capturing more information from the outset can lead to efficiencies further down the investigative line, and critically, ensures the public are safeguarded.

‘As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring your safety and promoting effective communication between our community and the police. Today, having considered the paper showing 999 and 101 data at Policing Accountability Board, and with the holiday season upon us where we always see an increase in demand, I urge you all to take a moment and consider the best way to contact the police in non-emergency situations.

‘If a crime is in progress, danger to life, or risk of serious injury and, or, damage to property this requires immediate attention and should always be reported through 999. However, it is equally important to recognise that not all incidents require the same level of urgency. For anything else, I urge the public to use alternative means of contacting the police, so that we can ensure that emergency lines remain available for those who truly need them.

‘In today’s digital age, we are fortunate to have various channels through which we can connect with our local police force.

‘In addition to phone calls, we encourage you to explore online methods and social media platforms used by Dyfed-Powys Police. These platforms often provide valuable updates, crime prevention advice, and community engagement opportunities, allowing you to connect and engage with the police and stay informed about local issues.

‘By utilising these alternative channels, we can collectively contribute to more responsive and efficient policing, allowing Dyfed-Powys Police to focus on critical situations while still addressing the concerns and needs of our community.'”