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Sussex Police issue overtime to deal with ‘constant queues’ for 101 contact centre
Police staff will be paid an enhanced level of overtime to deal with the “constant queues of work” in the contact centre.
New recruits are being brought in to deal with the pressure on the department with 2.5 times the overtime being offered for two months.
Sussex Police blamed the new 101 system, the busy summer period and the anti-fracking police operation at Balcombe for the problems.
Mark White, secretary of the Joint Branch Board at Sussex Police Federation, said: “We’ll be watching very closely to see if the recruitment makes any difference or if the problems are attributable to the £52m budget cuts.
“We’ve said time and time again the only thing you get for less is less. It doesn’t matter where the shortage is, something’s got to give.
“We will have to look at the response times again at a later date and if they are still not up to scratch we would argue we just haven’t got enough police officers on the street anymore.”
Sussex Police recently recorded one of the biggest rises in response times in the country, increasing from ten to 13 minutes.
Meanwhile HM Inspector of Constabulary said the force was not protecting its crime-fighting capability and was one of only three planning to decrease its proportion of frontline officers.
Jo Ball, head of non-emergency contact, said: “The Sussex Police Contact Centre has not been answering 101 calls as promptly as usual due to the embedding of a new system.
“In addition to the new system, we are seeing high call volumes due to a busy summer period and existing staff have been working flat out to answer those calls as quickly as possible.
“Additionally, staff who may have ordinarily been called in to assist have been committed to supporting the ongoing operation at Balcombe.”
The force is recruiting 33 new call handlers and 15 crime input administrators to relieve pressure.
Ms Ball added: “We appreciate sometimes speaking to a person on the phone is the only thing that will do, and we apologise for any delay. We’d also like to thank callers for their patience and understanding.”
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