Surrey's 101 service is being overwhelmed by Covid-19

November 25, 2020 10:49 AM

Paul KennedyThe Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Paul Kennedy, is calling on Surrey's current Commissioner to take action to stop the 101 service being overwhelmed by the pandemic, as Lib Dem research reveals 30-40% of non-emergency calls to Surrey Police went unanswered in late summer.

In August alone nearly 10,000 callers - representing 32% of total 101 calls - gave up in the face of a 4 minute average waiting time, while nearly 1,000 callers had to wait more than 20 minutes to get through.

August saw an increase in demand for both emergency (999) and non-emergency calls (101). There have been confused Government messages about coronavirus restrictions and increased reports of antisocial behaviour, drugs and domestic abuse during lockdown.

Surrey Police received 21,055 calls to the 101 service in July, of which just 11,957 were answered, with 9,112 abandoned calls (43%). In August they received 29,042 calls of which just 19,614 were answered with 9,428 (32%) abandoned calls. That month average waiting time rose to 3 minutes 51 seconds, and 981 callers - 5% of those who got through - had to wait for at least 20 minutes.

Paul Kennedy, a Mole Valley District Councillor, said:

"Surrey Police's professional telephone operators are working flat out to meet demand and keep us all safe and fortunately they are still able to respond to emergencies - but they are being overwhelmed because of coronavirus restrictions at work and because operators are unable to work from home."

"This huge number of abandoned calls represents thousands of missed reports a month about suspicious and antisocial behaviour, drug dealing, domestic abuse, thefts, assaults and vehicle crime. The calls come from victims of crime and other concerned members of the public many of them without access to other forms of communication."