Force working “flat-out” to tackle service backlog

The recent terror attacks and an unprecedented volume of calls from the public has left West Midlands Police battling to clear a service backlog – but the force has said it is working “flat-out” to drive down demand.

Last week there were around 2,000 calls from the public – mainly relating to non-urgent matters – on the force’s books to be resolved.

Officers and staff from back-office roles have been deployed on the front-line and in key support roles to help address the issue.

And it’s already starting to yield results…as Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale explained.

He said: “Demand is never consistent and there will always be peaks and troughs. But there is no doubt that in recent weeks and months we have witnessed unprecedented demand for policing services across the West Midlands.

“We responded to the terror attacks in London and Manchester by ramping up our armed and unarmed police presence in key locations across the region, including shopping centres, transport hubs, entertainment venues and places of worship. This was absolutely the right thing to do to reassure our communities and protect the public. We also sent officers to help our colleagues in London and Manchester in the aftermath of the attacks.

“In addition, the force saw a huge spike in calls from the public during the heat-wave last month: on both Saturday and Sunday (17-18 June) we took more calls than we did on New Year’s Eve which is normally the busiest day of the year.

“Understandably, this combination of factors has impacted on our ability to attend all calls for service, especially non-urgent matters, as swiftly as we would otherwise have been able to. We are prioritising calls so that the most serious incidents and vulnerable people are still receiving a swift police response – and in many cases we are getting officers to the scene within just a few minutes of an emergency call being made.

“There are currently 98 call logs classified as having required an immediate response still open. This does not mean officers haven’t yet attended, but the log has officially remained open while other enquiries like forensic searches are completed and documented.

“Our teams are working flat-out to tackle this backlog and we have already made some headway. Officers and staff normally in back-office positions have been deployed on the front line or in support roles to help out and some discretionary training has been postponed in order to boost resilience across police departments and our call centres.

“One initiative to tackle the backlog saw our Neighbourhood Policing Units and Response teams unite for an ‘All Out Day’ on Thursday (June 29) to target individuals and hotspots placing repeated, significant demand on the force. More are planned in the coming days.

“At times like this it’s really important members of the public understand the pressures our staff and officers are under and don’t call 999 or 101 with trivial matters or questions that could be answered with a quick internet search. We need to prioritise calls so we can quickly reach people in the most urgent need of police support or to scenes where crimes are in progress.

“It may be that people reporting non-emergency matters have to wait a little longer than normal to access our services and we thank them for their understanding.”

Source:: West Midlands Police News

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