Northamptonshire Police 999 calls were “well below customer expectations”

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A report into missed 999 calls by Northamptonshire Police in 2012 has found it fell “well below customer expectations”.

Police Commissioner Adam Simmonds this morning published a scrutiny report looking at how 999 calls are handled by Northamptonshire Police.

It comes after he highlighted concerns calls were going unanswered or not being answered for a long time in the control room during his election campaign.

The report makes 15 recommendations.

It says: “When a member of the public calls the police they rightly expect the telephone to be answered promptly and professionally. During 2012 the number of calls to Northamptonshire Police which were answered quickly - or at all - fell well below customer expectations.

“From the low points of 2012, call handling performance has shown a dramatic improvement, with service levels for answering both emergency (999) and non-emergency calls being attained from November onwards.

“The police control room is now in a significantly better position to facilitate provision of a high standard of customer service. This has been achieved whilst saving a substantial amount of money. In addition, confidence in Northamptonshire Police dealing with the things that matter continued to rise during the summer.”

Mr Simmonds today said “drastic improvements” have been made to the control room.

He said: “During my campaign to be elected Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner, many people told me they had concerns about the answering of 999 calls by the Northamptonshire police control room.

“I looked into this and was disappointed by what I found. So I promised that if I was elected I would commission a full scrutiny of what was going wrong.

“We are the first police and crime commission in the country to undertake this kind of independent scrutiny, which is an important part of our role. I am pleased that this thorough scrutiny has been carried out.

“Dramatic improvements have been made.”

Chief Constable Adrian Lee added: “The force control room is vitally important to our effectiveness as a police force and the level of service we deliver to people of the county. During the past year a significant change programme commenced to ensure that the force managed risk significantly better, improved value for money and reduced costs.

“During that journey, which was deliberately thorough and challenging, there were periods of poor performance.

“The Force control room team, led by Superintendent Mick Stamper, worked very hard to improve our management of risk and performance and the current performance figures reflect this. We are responding when our public need us and this is our primary aim.

“I welcome the recent scrutiny by the commissioner. The findings are fair and balanced, and it clearly reflects the improvements in risk management and value for money. The service we are now delivering costs almost £2 million less each year than it used to. Most importantly, on the completion of this journey we are providing a service to the people of the county that we are proud of.”