The 101 System in South Yorkshire Police was given close scrutiny at the Public Accountability Board meeting held between the Police and Crime Commissioner and South Yorkshire Police last week.

Dr Alan Billings requested updates from South Yorkshire Police on how the review into the contact management system was coming along after numerous complaints made to him by members of the public.

The 101 systems has received huge criticism and remains a top priority of issues being relayed to the Commissioner when he attends public meetings.  As part of his consultation and engagement, councillors and residents are furious that the waiting time on some calls could be up to 40 minutes.

Dr Billings asked for feedback from the Force on what can be done to improve performance with the current system and how will the Force keep the public involved and informed of the forthcoming changes.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin, who is leading on the Contact Management Review, updated the Commissioner on where the force was with system updates and how they are working to minimise waiting times for the public.

He said: “In May 2016, the performance of the contact management department was such a concern that a critical incident was declared.  I am pleased to say that now in November 2016, we are seeing some significant improvements and the public should now be seeing the results.

“We knew that demand on the service had changed, the working patterns were out of sync with demand and the systems and processes were not effective enough.

“A review and refresh of the workforce strategy was completed.  This has resulted in ten additional call handlers and six force crime bureau staff.  There are currently 23.9 vacancies with 17 staff in training.

“Ensuring that the Force can deliver the needs of the public is the key priority.  We will be consulting with the public on how they want to contact South Yorkshire Police and will feed all of this back in to the review.  This is a lengthy process unfortunately, but we do need to get it right.”

Dr Alan Billings said: “I am reassured to hear that progress is being made to improve the call handling system and the service South Yorkshire Police provide to the public of South Yorkshire.

“I am aware that the IT system currently in place is over 15-years old and understand that it is not fit for purpose for today’s policing demands.

“When residents in South Yorkshire call 101, they want to be greeted by a call handler as promptly as possible.  In order to do this the police need a full establishment of call handlers, fully trained with the skills to deal with calls promptly and effectively. There also needs to be an adequate IT system in place to allow staff to manage their time effectively and the public need to understand that the 101 service is for non-emergency police calls and not a number to be abused.

“I will continue to ask South Yorkshire Police for updates on how this review is progressing as this is important to the public within South Yorkshire and it must be an efficient and effective service.”