DURHAM Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Joy Allen recently met with control room handlers at Durham Constabulary Headquarters and spoke to staff about the daily demand faced by the service.

This is the first of several visits the PCC has planned with the control room to understand how it operates and the volume of calls they receive.

The PCC is keen to investigate the timeliness of 999 and 101 calls being answered from members of the public across County Durham and Darlington. She met with a call handler and a control room supervisor to find out more about the demand on the service and the types of calls they receive.

Durham Constabulary’s control room receives more than 1,000 calls a day from across County Durham and Darlington.

On average Durham Constabulary qualify around 10 per cent of all incidents as mental health related.

This is whereby mental health is at the centre of the incident or that the police had to do something additionally or different due to mental health factors.

The Force over-recruits the number of call handlers it needs to minimise vacancies and to ensure that performance is maintained.

The role of call handler requires quick decision making in high pressure situations, with handlers answering both 999 emergency calls and non-emergency 101 calls.

Call handlers use the THRIVE process to resolve calls. Use of THRIVE and the overall performance of the Force Control Room has previously been assessed as good by HMICFRS.

101 can be dialled if you wish to speak to the police in a non-emergency and a live chat function has recently been established.

The live chat function is staffed by dispatchers (8am-6pm) to helps to support and keep demand off call handlers.

PCC Joy Allen said: “Following my Police and Crime survey I conducted last year 68 per cent of respondents revealed they did not think it was easy to report a crime.

“I have spent time shadowing call handlers in the control room and spoke to them about the demand that the service faces. They have an extremely demanding role which requires making quick decisions in very high-pressure situations.

“We need to further educate people on the demand the service receives and ensure the public understand who to ring if it is not an immediate life-threatening emergency”.

“Non-emergency calls can be reported by dialling 101 and a live chat function has increased accessibility for reporting crimes.”