More than 70,000 calls to police 101 helpline go unanswered

A report from Heart News says that more than 200 calls a day to Police Scotland’s non-emergency phone number were not answered over the last year. Scottish Labour has warned that public confidence is being lost in the 101 system in the wake of the tragic death of Lamara Bell and John Yuill.

Between July 2015 and July 2016, 77,670 calls to the 101 number were abandoned. Lamara Bell and John Yuill died at the beginning of July 2015 after Police Scotland’s failure to respond to their call.

Scottish Labour’s Justice Spokesperson Claire Baker MSP said:

“With officer numbers at their lowest level since 2010 and civilian staff bearing the brunt of police cuts it will come as no surprise to those that have attempted to phone 101 that calls go unanswered.

However over 77,000 abandoned calls is simply unacceptable and urgent answers are needed from both Police Scotland and the SNP Government.

Everyone wants to feel safe in their own community. Yet when that safety is challenged it is vital that the public have the confidence in their local police to respond. That confidence is being lost.

A year on from the tragic case of Lamara Bell and John Yuill it is unacceptable that there are still concerns over 101 calls. Police Scotland and the Scottish Government must take action now.”

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12 thoughts on “More than 70,000 calls to police 101 helpline go unanswered

  1. Police Scotland.

    “What should I do if the 101 number is blocked on the phone at my workplace / college / business premises?

    As 101 is a relatively new number, some business phone systems and switchboards may not yet be programmed to recognise it. Please contact the person who administers your phone system to request that access is opened to the 101 number.

    In the meantime, you can contact the police using one of the alternative non-emergency numbers.”

    Of course the total number of 101 calls not answered across the whole of the UK is 3,469,984 so Police Scotland is only responsible for missing 2% of all missed calls across the UK.
    Room for improvement certainly but when is there not in any service? But in relative terms in the UK its exemplary.

    Just another worthless pathetic effort at SNP BAD again.

    That 4th spot in Scottish political standing is beckoning to Labour seductively.

    1. What is it you think work switchboards blocking 101 has to do with this story, Mike?

      And why is it you think failures elsewhere absolve the SNP of blame for failures here?

      1. Because it will be counted as missed calls. And why would it be the SNPs fault? They aint Police Officers or Telephone Engineers.

    2. Oh and Mike, one more question:

      Your very precise figure of 3,469,984 seems to match the number given in the response to a FOI request from the Daily Mail in July. The only problem with that is that that figure was given as the total missed over FOUR years. The figure in this article for Police Scotland is over ONE year. So your calculation of 2% seems to be pretty meaningless.

      My question is this – having once again been proved to be ignorant of the facts and mistaken in your beliefs, will you a) apologise fully and acknowledge the story as posted is entirely true and your comment was almost complete nonsense, or b) get even more irate and cast around for other reasons why the SNP must not be blamed for anything?

      1. “Inspector Matt Johnson, of Cambridgeshire Police, told a public meeting last year that “life was too short” to use the service.

        The service was first introduced by Labour in 2006 but was scrapped because of vast costs and its failure to reduce emergency calls.

        It was reintroduced throughout 2011 and 2012 costing 15p regardless of the call duration.”

        So Labour actually scrapped the 101 service in 2006 and it wasn’t introduced again until the Conservatives in 2011.

        Labour is trying to criticise the SNP for a service the Conservative Government reintroduced across the UK after Labour cancelled it on the grounds that it serves more people than Labour allowed it to.

        Beyond hypocrisy once again Duncan. This utter obsession you have with cyber trolling is a serious sign of mental illness.

  2. On the Evening Times site I found this :

    Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins told Heart : “It is misleading and inaccurate to suggest that in excess of 77,000 non emergency calls are unanswered by Police Scotland”.

    “Calls referred to as abandoned are defined as a call where the caller has disconnected without speaking to an adviser”.

    “This is not a suggestion that calls are routinely being unanswered but rather the caller has chosen to disconnect the call”.

    (there is more, but it appears the average answer time to a 101 call is twelve seconds, though they did find one caller waiting once for 16 minutes, it appears the media are trying to make a story out of this with labour jumping on the bandwagon to shit-stir SNNPBAD once again. )

    Check it yersels.

    1. Yes indeed, that is the line from the bosses. It’s the line from the minister too. But in the Heart News article linked to in the piece (http://www.heart.co.uk/scotland/news/local/exclusive-tens-of-thousands-of-police-scotlan/) they spoke instead to the Scottish Police Federation – which represents the rank and file of Police Scotland. Here’s a relevant quote from Callum Steele of the SPF:

      “Regardless of what way the information is presented there is nothing in it which should be considered to represent a glowing assessment of performance.

      “That 78,000 people for whatever reason, never got the service they were expecting when calling the police is simply unforgivable. They will not care whether this was due to sufficiency of staff in call centres or control rooms or elsewhere.

      “Even relying on the interpretation applied by the PSOS, 2-3% failure rate of 5,000 calls a day represents 36-54,000 non answered calls a year.

      “It is unfortunate at best that the service response is one of move along – nothing to see when it is as plain as the nose on your face that there are significant challenges in many parts of the service.

      “Of the other 24-42,000 dropped calls (depending on how the figures are measured) members of the public may well have been calling in with vital evidence or criminal intelligence. Whilst these may not be direct call answering problems, they are problems none the less and reinforce the reality of a service stretched beyond capacity.

      “By refusing to acknowledge even the perception of an issue that would rightly concern the public, the service does itself no favours.

      “It is perhaps understandable that the service would wish to convey as positive a message a possible but the abject denial of any problem will infuriate police officers and staff alike. They are working under incredible pressure against impossible odds to deliver high quality policing responses and they will not recognise the rose garden picture being presented.”

      I would tend to give more credence to the people actually doing the job than the people whose interests lie in protecting their reputations. Wouldn’t you?

      1. You’re referring to a service that Labour scrapped completely from 2006 to 2010 thereby ensuring the public across the whole of the UK didn’t have a 101 service at all thereby ensuring ALL potential calls that would have been made between 2006 and 2010 were lost.

        If your example is a definition of SNP BAD then Labours example is one of Labour criminal and betrayal.

        You don’t even deserve to be 4th in Scottish politics. You don’t deserve a place in it at all.

      2. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it, 101 is a non emergency call line, yet the guy is saying people may be calling in with “vital evidence or criminal intelligence”, surely that type of info would go to the 999 call line.

        How many calls are changed from non emergency to full emergency by the caller, or to some other option on the call system ??? how many callers have just called off because they have realised they did not need to call after all ?

        Infact how many of these abandoned calls are being answered under another option ???

        If the average time to answer a 101 call is twelve seconds perhaps the questions to ask is what percentage of callers have to wait for over 30 seconds, then one minute, and anything longer than perhaps two minutes and even more importantly the reasons for the delay.

        With labour and yersel’s history of mis-representing information, you have some cheek accusing the Assistant Chief Constable of wanting to only protect his reputation when all he did was clarify what an abandoned call actually meant. Which labour never did !!

        labour on the problem bandwagon again, but as usual never a solution worth a damn.

      3. I would have thought, given Callum Steele’s previous gross porkie pies and misrepresentations over charity shops and the like , that any reputable commenter would run a mile before using him as a rock to anchor their argument.
        Steele seems to think if the public hang up after a few seconds or dont speak, then its the system at fault because they “never got the the service they were expecting”.
        Steele should look at what the Tories HAVE done down south to the police, and what Labour said they WOULD do to the police, if elected, and be grateful for small mercies.

  3. Northumbria police receive about a million 101 calls every year—about 15% of calls are stupid calls—spicing burgers, care of hamsters etc. Wonder what Mr Stelle would make of that.
    Some context on these issues would be welcome.

  4. If you’re going to tell a lie that’s easily checked as such and then you’re found out why is it you expect folk to listen to anything further you have to say
    If you were in school you’d be in trouble for that and maybe learn a wee lesson but you people just don’t seem to get the hang of the learning part after being taught the lesson part

    Keep it up and staying above Willie Rennie will be the next challenge

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