Police chief defends response times

A POLICE chief has defended the non-emergency 0845 phone number after complaints about the service during a public meeting in North Walsham.Inspector Peter Hornby said there had been 268,000 calls to the number in Norfolk in the year 2007-2008 and 96.

A POLICE chief has defended the non-emergency 0845 phone number after complaints about the service during a public meeting in North Walsham.

Inspector Peter Hornby said there had been 268,000 calls to the number in Norfolk in the year 2007-2008 and 96.9pc of them had been answered within 30 seconds.

“Unfortunately when you're dealing with that volume of calls, the other 3.1pc left waiting adds up to a significant number of people,” he told last week's North Walsham Town Council Town meeting.

Several of those present said their calls had been answered fairly promptly but they had then faced a long wait to be transferred to someone who could help and sometimes hung up the phone in frustration, leaving crimes unreported.


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Resident Roger Hopkinson said the service was “highly unsatisfactory”. The last time he had used it to report youths behaving suspiciously behind the town council offices he had been put through to someone who did not know North Walsham and maintained the town did not have a council office, according to the information they had available.

“If only I could talk to someone at our Yarmouth Road police station who could jump on their bike and be there in two minutes,” he said. “It would save so much time. It's all done in the name of efficiency. It isn't efficient.”

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Insp Hornby said the system worked quite well but the constabulary was working very hard to address the issue. He added that residents wanting to report any crime in progress should dial 999.

·Total crime figures in the North Walsham area dropped by 18pc in the six months from April 8 to November 3, compared to the same period last year, according to Insp Hornby.

Statistics showed the number of all reported crimes had fallen from 510 to 419. These included a fall in offences of violence against the person from 123 to 101, criminal damage, 170 to 135 and burglary from homes, 13 to four.

Burglaries from premises other than homes had risen in the same period. Insp Hornby said a spate of caravan break-ins largely accounted for the increase. A man had eventually been caught near Fakenham and was suspected of involvement in about 70 offences.

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