Cops get 150 calls a day about crime... and 950 that aren’t

FORCE CAM­PAIGN URGES PUB­LIC TO ‘THINK WHO THEY RE­ALLY NEED TO SPEAK TO’

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Steve Bag­nall

NORTH Wales Po­lice re­ceives 950 calls a day which are noth­ing to do with crime, fig­ures have re­vealed.

That means around 87% of the more than 1,100 calls to the force every day are about other mat­ters, in­clud­ing men­tal health and coun­cil is­sues, as de­mands on re­sources in­crease.

North Wales Po­lice Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones said that only 150 calls a day are ac­tu­ally about crime, as a new cam­paign is launched urg­ing the pub­lic to think be­fore di­al­ing 999 or 101, to help re­lieve pres­sures.

Mr Jones, him­self a for­mer po­lice in­spec­tor who worked in North Wales Po­lice’s old con­trol rooms in Wrex­ham and Col­wyn Bay, re­cently vis­ited the force’s Joint Con­trol Cen­tre in St As­aph, where this year they have dealt with an ex­tra 5,600 calls to 999.

That equates to an ex­tra 27 calls a day or a huge in­crease of 11.2%

In to­tal, the cen­tre in St As­aph han­dles over 400,000 emer­gency and 101 calls a year and, ac­cord­ing to Mr Jones, many of them are un­nec­es­sary.

Over the past two years, the num­ber of emails from the pub­lic has dou­bled to an av­er­age of 4,300 a month or 150 a day, with the num­ber of we­bchats tre­bling to 1,700 a month or 56 a day.

The force is also launch­ing a so­cial me­dia blitz to drum home the mes­sage this month.

Mr Jones said: “Many of the calls are not ac­tu­ally po­lice mat­ters and should be di­rected to other agen­cies, whether it be lo­cal au­thor­i­ties or the health board.

“You should only call 999 if there is a di­rect and im­me­di­ate threat to life or prop­erty or if a crime is in progress.

“Peo­ple need to think be­fore they pick up the phone and de­cide who they re­ally need to speak to.

“The prob­lem is that, if there’s nowhere else to go, then they will ring the po­lice ir­re­spec­tive of whether the po­lice can deal with it.

“There are out-of-hours so­cial ser­vices but not ev­ery­one knows how to ac­cess them – ev­ery­one knows 999 and 101.

“That raises the ques­tion whether other pub­lic ser­vices pro­vide ad­e­quate ca­pa­bil­ity to re­spond and I don’t think they do.”

Su­per­in­ten­dent Neil Thomas is in charge of the con­trol room at St As­aph and he said: “We are fac­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of calls and we’re try­ing to ed­u­cate the pub­lic that there are other agen­cies out there who might be more ap­pro­pri­ate for their needs.

“We re­ceive, on av­er­age, 1100 calls a day, of which 300 of these are 999 calls, and only 150 crimes per day on av­er­age are recorded in North Wales.

“Calls re­lat­ing to in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal health-re­lated is­sues, so­cial needs, vul­ner­a­ble or peo­ple who are re­ported miss­ing peo­ple are in­creas­ing.

“These types of calls clearly take longer to deal with.”

North Wales Po­lice now have col­leagues from North Wales Fire and Res­cue and the Welsh Am­bu­lance Ser­vice along­side them in the con­trol room.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Thomas said that the num­ber of calls com­ing into the cen­tre could reach 100 an hour over a sus­tained pe­riod and the ma­jor­ity of emer­gency calls are an­swered within the na­tional guide­lines of 10 sec­onds.

He added: “In a real emer­gency we would al­ways en­cour­age peo­ple to dial 999.

“But we do want to ed­u­cate peo­ple to think first be­fore calling the po­lice be­cause there are other op­tions.

“In­ap­pro­pri­ate calls tie up emer­gency lines and can put peo­ple’s lives at risk.”

Pic­ture: MANDY JONES

Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones, left, vis­its North Wales Po­lice’s con­trol cen­tre, St As­aph, with Merfyn Jones and Su­per­in­ten­dent Neil Thomas,stand­ing

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