Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thousands Abandon Calls to Police 101 Number as 16 Minute-Plus Waits Soar

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thousands Abandon Calls to Police 101 Number as 16 Minute-Plus Waits Soar

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Davenport Crime Editor

NEARLY 860,000 calls to Scotland Yard's non-emergency 101 number were "abandoned" in the past 12 months, figures revealed today.

They also show that more than 42,000 people dialling the emergency 999 number and asking for a police response failed to complete the call.

The number of uncompleted 101 calls in September was 78,008 a rise of more than a third on the 57,734 for October last year. The figures were revealed to Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore after a question to the Mayor.

It raises fears that Londoners trying to report "low-level" crimes could be giving up in frustration. Separate figures obtained after a Freedom of Information request show the number of 101 calls taking longer than 16 minutes to answer rose from 435 in January to 30,746 in June. The number answered within 30 seconds fell from 142,322 in January to 60,197 in June.

The worst month for uncompleted 101 calls was also June, with 151,147 more than half the total of 284,704 calls received. There were also 7,908 uncompleted 999 calls that month, though this was only 3.5 per cent of the total 205,382 received that month.

Police point out that June was the month of the London Bridge terror attack and the Grenfell Tower fire, which put emergency services under huge pressure.

Scotland Yard also said there were many reasons why callers hang up. One is that people dialling 101 decide to report crimes online after hearing a recorded message about this service.

An "abandoned call" can also be due to a mobile phone losing its signal.

However, senior officers admit that the Met's call handling centre has been short-staffed. In August, the force advertised for 190 new call handlers.

The figures come as the Met faces PS400 million of cuts. The force plans to close more than half its 73 police stations and sell the buildings to raise PS165 million. …

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