NEW FIGURES show West Midlands Police is the third fastest force in the UK for answering 999 emergency calls.
Data from Radaris shows of the 62,207 emergency calls taken in 2022, 92.4 per cent of them – 57.506 – were answered within 10 seconds.
This is a dramatic improvement as previously only 78 per cent of 999 calls and 40 per cent of 101 calls were answered within that time.
The force said it knew those figures were not good enough and something had to change.
In January 2023, work began on the West Midlands Police’s Contact Centre to completely change its structure, increase staffing and invest in people and the facilities they worked in.
By November, after having their best 11 months, handlers were answering 96 per cent of 999 calls within 10 seconds and had an average response time of three seconds.
West Midlands Police said it had also improved the proportion of emergency incidents attended within its specified targets by 25 per cent and was now arriving at the most serious incidents in an average of 12 minutes – two minutes faster than in March.
Since April, Force Contact has answered over 630,000 emergency 999 calls – 91 per cent of those calls have been answered within 10 seconds with the average call taken at six seconds.
The speed in which non-emergency 101 calls are being answered has also drastically improved – the average wait time was 20 minutes but last month was under 50 seconds.
These calls are also being responded to more quickly, thanks to locally-based response officers.
Over Christmas and new year, West Midlands Police took over 200 calls (999/101) per hour. In the two hours between midnight and 2am on January 1, there were 560 calls for assistance and 1,100 in six hours. All of these calls – on traditionally the busiest night of the year – were answered within five seconds.
Head of force contact, Ch Supt Ian Parnell, said: “I am incredibly proud of the work of all staff across Force Contact who work every day to keep the communities of the West Midlands safe.
“Working in a control room is a challenging and rewarding career where you can make a real difference.
“Every shift offers something new and almost 80 per cent of calls for service are resolved directly by Force Contact staff. They truly are at the frontline.
“We need people with resilience and patience because at times when the public contact us they are not thinking straight and it is our job to get the relevant information from them quickly and efficiently. “
West Midlands Police call handlers need to be able to stay calm under pressure, have good listening skills, empathy and be able to make the right decision quickly.
But being a contact handler or dispatcher in Force Contact is more than just answering calls – those in the roles need to obtain and provide accurate information to ensure the right decisions are made to help and keep people safe and send the right resource to the right job, protecting the most vulnerable in their hour of need.
Visit wmp.referrals.selectminds.com/ for more information on jobs with West Midlands Police.