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Kent Police transfer police officers to address 101 calls issues

Police officers and staff have been pulled in from other duties to answer 101 calls to address the force's ongoing crisis.

Last month, KentOnline revealed frustration across the county experienced by the public who said they were finding it impossible to get through on the non-emergency number to report crimes or give information relating to investigations.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Vaughan Lukey
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Vaughan Lukey

The force's own statistics showed in one month, 55% of all calls went unanswered.

It blamed a shortage of civilian call-handlers in the control room and difficulties in recruiting more staff.

But after strong criticism from Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, who said waits of several hours for a call to be answered was unacceptable, bosses have acted.

A total of 35 officers have now been transferred from regular duties to reinforce the control room staff.

Temporary assistant chief constable Vaughan Lukey said: "Between April and October, we received around 100,000 more telephone and online contacts than the same period the previous year, which is reflective of a national trend.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Mathew Scott
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Mathew Scott

"As a force we routinely move our officers to areas of need when required and in this case a small number of officers have been temporarily redeployed to a frontline role at the Force Control Room while our campaign to recruit 100 new call-handlers continues."

He added: "The redeployed officers will ensure call demand is met and the force continues to provide a first-class service to the public, as we develop longer-term plans to meet the increased demand.

"Every contact we receive is important to us and we are committed to keeping people safe by ensuring our professional service puts victims and witnesses first.

"There are now more ways to contact Kent Police than ever before and we recommend using our online reporting tool or live chat function. Always call 999 in an emergency."

One pensioner, who had previously complained how it was impossible to get through on 101 to report nuisance bikers, said: "This is great news and a tremendous relief. Well done KentOnline for highlighting the problem."

Kent Police are recruiting call handlers
Kent Police are recruiting call handlers

The force would not divulge from which duties the officers had been pulled away, but it is understood some of them were school liaison officers.

Mr Scott said previously on the issue: "I know the police are doing everything they can to fill the vacancies, meet the demand and resource the control room properly.

"We are currently recruiting in our Force Control Room, which operates 24 hour- a-day, seven days-a-week, and would like to hear from anyone who wants to be part of the team that plays such a vital role in frontline policing."

To learn about the vacancies, visit here.

The starting salary for the "exciting and rewarding career" as a calls handler is £23,802 for a 37-hour week, working a shift pattern that includes nights and weekends. Other shift lengths are available.

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