Callers to Durham Police’s control room are being met with a swifter response following a “significant investment” in the system.

The average time taken for the Durham force to answer 101 calls has fallen by more than 80 per cent over the last ten months thanks to the funding boost for its control room.

Since March last year the force has recruited an extra 29 call handlers and six switchboard staff to work in the control room, alongside the inception of a new switchboard "triage" system.

Nine further call handlers are now undergoing training and will join the control room later this month.

The Northern Echo: Significant improvements made to response times to calls to Durham Police control room

It means non-emergency calls made to the force are now answered, on average, within 51 seconds.

This is said to mark a reduction of 81 per cent compared with March last year, when the average time to answer a 101 call was four-and-a-half minutes.

Calls made to the emergency 999 line are also said to have shown a significant improvement.

The Northern Echo:

Chief Inspector Laura Backhouse, of the force control room, said: “Public confidence starts with people being able to contact us quickly when they need us, not just for 999 emergencies, but for those non-urgent 101 calls, too.

“We knew we needed to improve the service we provided, so over the last year we have implemented additional resources and revised a number of processes.

“This has resulted in significant improvements in this area.

“We used to measure our average call handling times on 101 in minutes, now we measure it in seconds.

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“We are also in the process of moving towards the single online home website, which will allow members of the public to submit some queries and applications online, freeing up more control room staff to deal with 101 and 999 calls.

“We know we have further to go, and more improvement needs to be made because every call matters.”

She added that she was “confident” the force’s response to calls is now, “heading in the right direction”.