A new centre has been opened that will see emergency calls to the police answered in Portsmouth for the first time, in a bid to help further reduce waiting times for residents across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The new centre will further improve the capability across the force, meeting the changing demands.
In a boost to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Constabulary’s ability to answer 999 and 101 calls, the new hub will see call handlers based in the city, alongside those working out of Southampton Central Police Station.
Its launch is an integral part of Chief Constable Scott Chilton’s and Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones’ ambition to improve call waiting times for those trying to contact the force via the 101 service.
Their joint vision is to make significant improvements across the Contact Management department, using modern and innovative technology to make it accessible to all and able to effectively respond to those in need of our policing services.
The Contact Management Centre handles the calls into the force from the public on the 999 and 101 numbers, as well as online reports.
The team also records crimes and creates incidents for deployment to the Police Control Room, as well as responding to reports of crime and enquiries from the public via the Single Online Home.
The first of the force’s new call handlers have already started to take calls from the new base at the Portsmouth Investigation Centre, supported by experienced colleagues from the Southampton centre.
New recruits will be coming on board throughout the next couple of months, with the new hub able to support a team of 40.
It is hoped this new location, alongside our existing base in Southampton, will encourage more people to think about joining the force and joining our call handling team, as it was for Louisa Mcdonough and Laura Markwick who are some of the first new recruits.
Louisa, said: “I’ve been in training for two months now and I’m really enjoying the challenge of this new role. We deal with people at often the lowest times in their lives and being able to help them and make a difference is very rewarding.”
Laura, said: “Having been in this role for two months now, I have dealt with a number of different calls. At the end of the day, when I leave work, I can leave knowing that I have helped make a difference to someone’s life. If anyone is thinking of applying for a role as a call handler my advice would be to just go for it. It’s such a rewarding job and we’ve been fully supported throughout training and will continue to receive support as we progress into our new careers.”
Chief Constable Scott Chilton, said: “Our call handlers play a crucial role in our policing of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. They deal with the critical, frontline policing; dealing with some extremely difficult situations.
“Our call handlers are now picking up calls quicker, and responding to concerns that members of our communities had. This second Contact Management Centre will improve our ability further to answer these calls as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It is important we get the right people for the job and this new centre will open up opportunities to local people. If you’re interested in applying for a role with us, please take a look at our website.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Donna Jones, said: “One of my priorities as Commissioner is to make it easier for people to report crime and that has meant significant improvements being made in call handling specifically the 101 service.
“Since I appointed the Chief Constable nearly a year ago, he has made a number of positive changes to the way Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary operates and these include recruiting more staff and changing the way the 101 service works.
“As a consequence we have seen a significant improvement in the 101 service over the last three months. The call handling time is now just minutes making Hampshire and Isle of Wight one of the quickest forces in the country to answer the phone. These improvements are welcome and come after I raised concerns about the service with the Chief Constable when he moved to the force in early 2023. The improvements must continue, but I am confident the Chief and his team have a solid plan in place.
“More call handlers coming on board in Portsmouth means we’re continuing to move in the right direction. I’m delighted to have enabled this new Contact Management Centre to open. It is a major boost in making sure that 101 performs as an effective service that the public can reply on going forward.”