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Increased calls putting strain on Dorset Police resources

999 call police

Published at 8:01am 10th February 2019. (Updated at 12:04pm 11th February 2019)

Increasing calls for help are putting strain on Dorset Police resources.

Almost two in every ten are not a police matter and one in ten now involves someone with a mental health crisis.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill says the increases come at a time of extreme pressure on budgets.

He said 2018 saw records constantly broken for calls and incidents, particularly over the summer.

“They often involved people with complex needs we are simply not equipped to help with, although of course we try. It’s the nature of the job,” he told Thursday’s county police and crime panel.

He said the year had also seen a 100 per cent rise in calls about missing people.

The Police Commissioner said that all the areas would be looked at to see if the pressure could be reduced on the service by encouraging calls to the agencies who should be dealing with them – often mental health teams or social services.

Mr Underhill said that this year’s £24 increase in the police share of the council tax was needed to plug a £7million hole in the budget.

He said the alternative to the increase was a cut of more than 200 front line jobs.

“Ruthlessly chasing efficiencies for a decade has left the cupboard empty – we simply cannot find another £7million.”

Chief Constable James Vaughan said that upward pressure on the 101 and 999 service meant another 5-10 per cent increase in calls this year.

“The summer demand meant we broke all records on a daily basis. There has been an unprecedented demand, a lot of it is what I might call ‘lower harm’ but each call is a member of the public with a problem which needs solving.”

He said that in the year ahead the force hoped to make changes to staff duty patterns and might introduce what he described as ‘seasonal hours.’

The panel heard that 18 per cent of the calls were not about policing matters and 9 per cent of the total should have gone to another agency.

“Ten per cent of demand every day is people with poor mental health in crisis and with nowhere to go,” said Mr Vaughan.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter

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