‘Voice recognition’ tool could be used to log crimes via Northamptonshire’s 101 service

A control room operator answers calls at Northamptonshire Police headquarters. The force could soon introduce a voice recognition tool to its 101 service.

A control room operator answers calls at Northamptonshire Police headquarters. The force could soon introduce a voice recognition tool to its 101 service.

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Victims of crimes in Northamptonshire could soon be logging them through a voice recognition system if plans to change the way the non-emergency 101 number works in the county come to fruition.

A report on the work being carried out by Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds, which went before this week’s police and crime panel meeting at County Hall this week, outlined how work was progressing to streamline the force control room.

It stated the constabulary is looking into the possibility of using “real voice technology” when people dial the non-emergency number, “so residents can speak their issue on 101 rather than choosing from a list of options.”

And it added: “This will mean that non-emergency calls would be routed much quicker to the right people.”

The current 101 number requires callers to choose from a list of options and press the appropriate keypad number to log a crime, before speaking to a member of the switchboard.

Specific offices or departments can be reached through a voice recognition service.

Mr Simmonds said the technology, which has been criticised in the past for its inaccuracy, is being looked into because he said around 80 per cent of all people that call both 101 and 999 are not calling with police concerns.

He said: “This is about trying to make sure that when people phone up they can simply say things down the phone that gets them to the right person and as quickly as possible.

“We are considering all different types of technology.

“The challenged we are faced with is that 80 percent of all the calls were not police related.

“This would make sure we concentrate our efforts on the 20 percent that are absolutely police matters.”

H said the force is looking at drawing on private sector expertise to improve its service, such as consulting with British Gas in how it deals with large volumes of callers, and including gaining advice from the county’s Citizens Advice Bureau on work through a caller’s issue.

The report states the force is also examining the provision of “real-time performance information” to the control room supervisors which will enable them to switch people from 101 to the emergency service 999.

As for a timescale, Mr Simmonds said he hoped to have a plan in place to change the way the control room operates by the end of 2015.