A MULTI-MILLION pound investment is set to improve the way North Yorkshire Police’s 999 and 101 calls are handled.

A new Force Control Room (FCR) will be built at the Fulford Road police station in York, next to the current site, where a larger number of call handlers and staff will be located.

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said £3million would be invested in the force in the next two years, with 32 new full-time staff, state-of-the-art IT equipment and a new training and tutoring facilities.

The announcement comes after lengthy problems within the FCR, which led to callers waiting several minutes before getting through, and high levels of abandoned calls.

New measures have already been put in place which saw the average time taken to answer a 101 call fall from three minutes 35 seconds in August to one minute and six seconds in February.

Mrs Mulligan said great work had already been done by FCR staff, but more needed to be done.

Funding has been approved by the PCC, and will not be coming from the current police budget, rather from extra money raised by the increased police precept through the Policing Priorities Fund.

Mrs Mulligan said: “The public has been crystal clear that the performance of the 101 number in particular has not been good enough—this has also impacted on the vital 999 service. Whilst I am pleased that the force has already put in place measures to improve matters, this investment will, over time, ensure that busy periods don’t cause substantial issues and that the police have what they need to provide a first class service to the public.

“There was never going to be an overnight fix to the issues, but the additional money raised by the recent increase in policing precept has allowed me to make a substantial investment in the 101 service, which I know is a number one priority.”

The money will also see the creation of a new Crime and Occurrence Management Unit, in an effort to improve the way crime is recorded, following some criticism from the police watchdog and concerns that large numbers of crimes were not properly logged.

North Yorkshire Police Superintendent Mike Walker, said: “Demand in the Force Control Room shows no sign of reducing and although we have put various measures in place to improve the service over recent months, we need a sustainable and resilient solution for the future. This additional funding will provide that and ensure our service continues to improve.”

Supt Walker also urged members of the public to help by using the 999 and 101 services responsibly.

He said: “Only call us when it is a police-related matter to ensure our lines are kept free for people in need of genuine police assistance. If you are unsure about who to call, our website provides guidance on who to call in various situations from noise nuisance to stray dogs.”