Police Authority Cuts Go Too Far
|Author: Peter Heaton - Conservative||Published: 2nd November 2012 11:47|
One in five calls to the Northamptonshire Police 101 non-emergency number have been going unanswered as a result of Northamptonshire Police Authority's decision to make savings from a frontline service.
The shock figures have beeen revealed through a Freedom of Information enquiry by Adam Simmonds, Conservative cadidate to be Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner
Says Mr Simmonds, “A total of 35,500 calls were not answered in the six months between March and August this year. That is 184 unanswered calls every day. Over a six month period, one missed call for every 19 people in the county.
“On average each month, the number of calls dropped was almost 6,000 per month, equivalant to the population of a town the size of Oundle (5,800) each and every month.
“The force's service in terms of abandoned non-emergency calls became four times worse comparing November to January with February to April. Over the same period the force reduced its call handling workforce by 25%. This would not seem to be a coincidence.
“I am shocked that a telephone number set up for the public to report non-emergency yet often serious crime such as anti- social behaviour, is not being managed properly.
“Like all public sector organizations Northamptonshire Police Authority has been reducing its spending on non-essential work. It beggars belief though that the current body running the Police could have made such an irresponsible cut. To have slashed staffing levels in this vital service so disproportionately is madness. It does nothing to enable local people to report matters of concern, feel safe or feel confident that the police are interested in dealing with their concerns. And it does nothing to help hardworking front line police officers who are being let down by this failure. I am not blaming the Chief Constable but the body that has had the responsibility for strategically planning policing services- the outgoing Police Authority.
“Instead of cutting this service in such an arbitrary way, savings could have been found in areas which would not adversely affect service to the public. These include management costs, where Northamptonshire has a ratio of one manager to every three constables, property costs, where expensive outdated buildings can be rationalized and the more efficient management of backroom services such as IT and administration,
“Not only have we all been short changed by this abysmal service but I also understand that there is no mechanism to check what all those 101 calls are about. No regular pattern of ringing back. Or any apparent systematic mechanism to check patterns, repeat callers, or to confirm that the callers are not vulnerable people.
In November 2011, 27,853 non emergency calls were handled of which 4% were abandoned; in September 2012, 19,767 calls were abandoned – 12.9% of the total.
Between the 1st and 22nd October, 2012 the total number of non-emergency calls received was 14,061. The total number of unanswered calls was 1,244 which is equal to 8.1%. So compared with last November, more than twice as many calls were not answered even though a little over half as many were made.
“This feels a long way away from basic public expectation. A serious breakdown in the basic policing service for the county and if elected as police and crime commissioner I am determined to establish a Blue Light Guarantee, setting out what people should expect from the Police when they ring either 999 or 101."