“It’s a job that makes me very proud” Contact handlers describe challenges of role as 999 performance data released
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“Every day is different and every day is a challenge but it’s also very rewarding – it’s job that makes me very proud.”
Those are the words of Leicestershire Police contact handler Chelsea Tedds speaking as figures released today (Tuesday) show the force’s response rate to 999 calls.
The data published shows that between November 2021 and April 2022 a total of 80,606 calls were made to Leicestershire Police through 999 – an average of 13,434 calls a month. The average answer time was 8.4 seconds with the median answer time being four seconds. The Home Office target time set for forces is under 10 seconds.
The data shows a total of 71,575 of the 80,606 calls made to the force were answered in under the 10 second target – 88.8% of the calls. The target set for each force is for 90% of calls to be answered in under 10 seconds.
Contact handler Chelsea Tedds
The call answering time data issued includes the time taken for a call to be transferred to a force and the time taken by that force to answer the call.
The data published states a total of 6,830 of the 999 calls to Leicestershire Police were answered in 10 to 60 seconds – 8.5%.
And behind these statistics is a dedicated team in the force’s Contact Management Department answering hundreds of emergency and non-emergency calls every day in the Control Room, being the first point of contact for the force, dealing with distressing situations and making instant decisions to get people the help they need.
Chelsea, who has been in the job for three years, said: “It was the appeal of talking with people, the challenge of getting that initial understanding in an emergency and of taking the action to help a person that made me apply for the job.
“Days can be difficult and are fast-paced but you’re always learning such as when you’re faced with a new situation you’ve not dealt with before. You know you just have to act and provide the service that people need whatever situation you are in.
So, what is it like when answering a 999 call?
“You never get used to it,” says Chelsea. You do always fear the worst but it means you are prepared then for whatever you are about to hear. You just have to keep calm, get the information and get someone there as quickly as possible.”
Dave Gorley, who started with the team nine months ago, added: “You have to remember what is important when you’re taking the call. When someone is in distress and in an unexpected emergency situation, we have to remain focused on staying calm and getting the information that we need to help as quickly as possible.
Contact handler Dave Gorley
“We’ll be taking the call and have other questions coming into us in force and it’s about managing it all and getting the right information that is needed. You can’t allow yourself to move away from that.”
He added: “When you take a call though and your action makes a difference for someone, that is such a great feeling.”
And, of course, working in a challenging role means the team are constantly looking out for each other too.
Chelsea said: “You do try to separate what you deal with at work from home but some jobs do stay with you. Everybody has everybody’s back in the team though. You can hear the different conversations in the Control Room and we’ll check in on one another. We are one team and one family.
“It does make me proud to be part of the team, to be providing that first point of contact, helping people and working for Leicestershire Police. I’m proud to be part of that.”
Superintendent Steve Durrant said: “The force Control Room is the first point of contact for people calling the force in both emergency and non-emergency situations. We receive hundreds of calls every day and our contact handlers do an amazing job in answering these and making instant decisions to help someone in need and to get the information required for officers attending the scene, all while remaining calm and focussed.
“We continue to work as a team to continue improving on our response rate to calls while ensuring every call is handled in a sensitive and effective manner.”
**Always call 999 in an emergency. If calling in relation to a non-emergency, you should contact 101 or report online at www.leics.police.uk