Humberside Police has responded to recent concerns about its non-emergency 101 telephone service.
Superintendent Tracey Bradley from the Humberside Police Control Room said: "It is incredibly important to us that people know that when they need us, we will be there and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact us.
“We do understand that long wait times for the 101 non-emergency service are incredibly frustrating. We share this frustration and are working hard to reduce waiting times for calls every day. However, we always prioritise 999 calls and protect this emergency number, which can in turn impact on our ability to call 101 during periods of high demand. We are currently answering 90% of 999 calls within 10 seconds, which meets the Government target.
"Police forces across the country are struggling to deal with demand on the 101 service and there are a number of reasons for this.
"Firstly there has been an increased demand on both our emergency and non-emergency service, with call handlers in the control room taking almost 275,000 calls in the first six months of 2018.
“We are constantly looking at ways to meet this demand and improve the service. We have increased staffing numbers and training, and we were the first force in the country to implement the Queue Buster system which gives people the option to be called back rather than waiting to report a non-emergency incident to 101. This has made a significant difference to our service by reducing the amount of calls that are dropped and repeat calls.
“Our online crime reporting system has also very recently been improved to make it easier to use. Reports of theft, criminal damage, shed and outbuilding burglaries, theft or damage to vehicles, and hate crime can all be reported using this online system and we aim to respond within 24-hours. Non-injury road traffic collisions can also be reported online and we aim to respond within 48-hours during the week.
“We would strongly encourage people with any of these crime types and who do not need to speak to someone immediately, to please report online as it will help to reduce the demand on the non-emergency number.
“We would also ask people to think before they dial the non-emergency number, is it the right call? Some calls we receive are not a police matter but an issue for other agencies such as local authority or health services. Issues such as graffiti, litter and fly tipping for example should all be reported to the local authority.
“We also receive calls that shouldn’t be made at all, including a caller wanting to let us know they had seen a horse which ‘looked sad’ and they were concerned, a man who called to ask the time and a caller who wanted us to help after their electricity went off and they were unable to switch it back on. These type of calls create unnecessary pressure and demand and put those in genuine need of police assistance at risk."