Published: 09:48, 13 June 2019
| Updated: 11:19, 13 June 2019
Kent Police has come in for praise from the Policing Minister Nick Hurd.
As the Home Office announced plans to make the non-emergency 101 number free to call, Mr Hurd singled out Kent Police as an example of how forces can improve their 101 call-handling performance.
He said the move to free calls was only part of the journey to improve the public’s experience of non-emergency contact with the police.
He said: "The next step is delivery of a better, more consistent, 101 service across the country. Kent Police have shown what is possible."
The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott made it his mission to see the 101 service improved.
He said: "When I became Police and Crime Commissioner, one of the issues which came up time and time again was the public’s frustration with the 101 number. People were unhappy at having to wait long periods for a member of police staff to pick up the phone.
"I raised their concerns with Kent Police and I began receiving regular updates from the force on the levels of demand the force was experiencing.
"I invested money from council tax last year into additional members of staff to help boost capacity in the Force Control Room and am delighted to hear that call waiting times have reduced significantly since then."
The average wait for non-emergency 101 calls has reduced from four minutes in the spring of 2016 to 59 seconds in April this year.
There were 36,217 non-emergency calls that month.
There were 26,565 calls to the emergency 999 number in April. They were answered in an average of nine seconds.
Mr Scott said: "I am pleased that the Policing Minister recognises the great work Kent Police has done to improve its non-emergency contact with the public. I echo his comments – the force has done fantastically well and I pay tribute to everyone involved for showing what can be done."