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Avon and Somerset Police ranked as fastest service for answering 999 calls

We have been recognised nationally for the timeliness of answering 999 calls, with an average answer time of just 6.1 seconds.

The 999 Performance Data, provided by BT, shows the total number of 999 calls received by each organisation on a monthly basis and how they perform against the Home Office’s target of 10 seconds. This is the first time figures of this sort have been released to the public.

Avon and Somerset Police topped the tables, taking 22,767 calls in a six month period, with 15,434 of them being answered in under five seconds, and 5,274 answered in five to 10 seconds.

Chief Constable, Sarah Crew, said: “I want to congratulate the control room for coming first nationally for speed in answering 999 calls. Having a fast response time to answering 999 calls is vital, especially when the caller is in distress or the emergency is ongoing.

“Being able to reassure members of the public that we can answer their call quickly after they dial 999 is a great service and I could not be prouder of our contact centre provision for supporting callers during, what could be, a terrible time.”

The Contact Centre, based at headquarters in Portishead, has a team of call handlers receiving both 999 and 101 calls. They work in partnership with dispatchers to co-ordinate the organisation’s police resources.

While our 999 answering response is the fastest in the country, this is because it is used as an emergency-only line, and we would like to encourage people to continue to use it purely in this way.   

Head of Command and Control, Becky Tipper, added: “It has been a challenging year with increased 999 demand. The entire control room team have worked extremely hard to ensure we are there for those who call us as quickly as possible.

“999 must be prioritised for those who are in an emergency where life is at risk or offenders are on the scene. For non-emergencies, reports can be made online via our website reporting forms. The website can be accessed 24/7 and is an effective alternative to calling. There is also our 101 for anyone wishing to report non-urgent matters.

“During busier demand periods, there is a call-back option on the 101 non-emergency line, which results in the caller retaining their place in the queue but not being required to stay on the line. By doing this you are helping us to free up our call handlers to deal with emergency incidents on 999 and will be supporting us in saving lives.”   

PCC Mark Shelford said: “Calling 999 can literally be a matter of life and death so I am delighted that Avon and Somerset Police has been identified as a high performing force. It has been a challenging few years and I do not underestimate the commitment from the control room team – a huge congratulations to each and every one of you.

“Local people deserve the very best police service and I hope this news, that Avon and Somerset Police is the fastest force for answering 999 calls, provides reassurance and encouragement for our communities.”

If you would like to consider a career within our Control Room, we are currently recruiting call handlers and dispatchers to join us. You will be the first point of contact taking calls and providing immediate support, reassurance and advice to the public.

To find out more about the roles available and to apply, visit the career section of our website.