Councillors call for an upgrade of the Dyfed-Powys Police non-emergency 101 line

Monday 3rd January 2022 4:35 pm
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A revamp of the 101 line used by the public to report incidents to Dyfed-Powys Police has been called for by Carmarthenshire councillors, who heard that some people had given up trying to get through.

Councillors supported a motion which said residents were finding it difficult to access the non-emergency number because of long delays in answering, although many abstained.

The motion called on the force’s new chief constable, Richard Lewis, to initiate a revamp of the call system which would reinstall people’s confidence in phoning 101, which would in turn provide a more accurate account of crime and disorder statistics.

It was introduced by Clr. John James, who said 101 was an excellent concept.

But he said: “Residents have given up reporting anti-social behaviour and other crimes because they can’t get through on this number.”

The Labour councillor also said incident numbers weren’t being given to callers who had got through.

And he cited a Freedom of Information response from Dyfed-Powys Police which revealed that 3,503 calls to 101 went unanswered between January 1 and June 30 this year.

Clr. James’s motion acknowledged the professionalism and efforts of the force, but he feared fewer police resources would be allocated to areas if fewer crimes were reported because people were frustrated with 101.

Council leader Emlyn Dole said he would abstain as this was an issue for the force’s police and crime commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn who, he said, had tendered a contract for an upgrade of the 101 and 999 phone service.

The Plaid leader said Mr. Llywelyn had promised in his latest police and crime plan that the public would receive an accessible and responsive service, and that the upgrade would take place in the 2022-23 financial year.

“This renders this motion completely irrelevant,” he said.

Labour councillor John Prosser, who sits on the Dyfed Powys police and crime panel – which scrutinises the work of the commissioner – said two reports by Government inspectors had criticised the force’s 101 service.

Some callers, he said, were either not getting through or not being given an incident number when they did, although he added that a lot of work was being done to improve the situation.

Independent councillor Philip Hughes said the motion should have been submitted to the Dyfed Powys police and crime panel, not the council, while Plaid councillor Ken Howell asked why Cllr Prosser hadn’t brought the 101 issue up at police and crime panel meetings.

Some councillors said their experience of 101 was good; others said it wasn’t.

Labour councillor Dot Jones said she’d hung up a 101 call after waiting more than 40 minutes.

Independent councillor Alan Speake said three calls he’d made to the service in the last year or so had been answered quickly.

Before the vote was taken, Clr. James said he took “a bit of umbrage” that he hadn’t done any research.

He said he had approached Mr. Llywelyn, and the advice he’d received was that it “was nothing to do” with the commissioner, although he could influence the 101 issue. Cllr James said he was advised that it was the chief constable who would have to “put his name on it”.

Speaking afterwards, Plaid police and crime commissioner Mr. Llywelyn said he monitored the performance of the 101 line and that changes were under way.

He added that the new police and crime plan would be published in the next couple of weeks.

“I am pleased to be able to announce that I have authorised the purchase of a new telephone system for the force command and control centre that will be introduced in 2022 to improve efficiency,” said Mr. Llywelyn.

“We also have a new record management system being phased in during 2022-23. These investments in our contact centre and changing the way we respond to calls is a priority for me to ensure the best possible service for the public.”

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