In these extraordinary times, we find ourselves in the 11th month of restrictions placed upon us as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been hard, with many personal sacrifices. Sadly, I know many of you will have suffered even greater losses – of livelihoods and of the lives of loved ones. I am very sorry if you have.
Throughout these unprecedented times, there have also been examples of great community spirit and acts of incredible kindness. I am grateful to those of you who have responded so positively to our requests for you to make changes to your daily lives by staying at home and, at times, not meeting with friends and family.
I would like to let you know about some changes we are making in the way you can contact us. We know that many people don’t think about contacting the police until they are in real need and often that will be when they find themselves in a situation no one would ever choose – falling victim to crime, witnessing crime or wishing to pass on information. We welcome this contact. We know how crucial what you tell us can be in helping us to solve crime, prevent others becoming victims and keep you safe from harm.
On average, through our Force Contact Centre, police station receptions and Constabulary website, we receive 1,000 reports and calls for help each day. These can range from reports of missing people and collisions, to general switchboard requests to speak to officers or make statements, and it can be challenging to keep up with that demand. We can respond to some of these promptly, while others – and any subsequent investigations – can take much longer. We believe that around 30% of calls made via 999 are inappropriate and that a similar percentage of 101 calls are too. It’s important for us to let you know which one is appropriate and in what circumstances so that we can make sure you get the help you need.
We recognise that call waiting times on 101 have been too long in the past and we are working hard to ensure we have the right level of resources and systems in our Force Contact Centre to help manage this. Our budget planning has allowed us to invest so that we can do this, but it is something we will need to continue to do if we are to keep up with demand.
We are working hard to deliver the Police and Crime Plan’s priority of ‘Every crime matters, every contact counts’ so that when you call us for help, you are at the heart of our response. That includes providing a number of ways for you to contact us, depending on the circumstances and, in many cases, in the way you prefer to do it.
You may be surprised by the number of channels now available to you to contact officers or to find advice. As you can see from the chart overleaf, these are straightforward to use and many will save you time and effort. By choosing the right one for the circumstances, you will be able to give our staff the information they need first time, quickly and simply so that we can give you the most appropriate response.
We’re making you aware of these options as part of our ‘Click. Call. Connect.’ public contact campaign. This supports the ‘Every crime matters, every contact counts’ priority, and we ask you to keep this information handy should you need our services in the future, as you never know when that will be. You can see more about it over coming weeks here through our website and the website of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) – www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk as well as our social media and other more traditional channels.
Once again, please be sure that we value the relationship we have with our communities in Gloucestershire. We pride ourselves on providing a service that feels local and appropriate to everyone’s needs, as part of our work to help keep you safe from harm.
I recognise that this year has been a huge challenge for us all. Thank you for all you have done in acting responsibly and supporting not only one another, but us too.
May I also ask for your continued support in the weeks and months ahead as we work together and do what we can to stay strong, safe and well during 2021.
Rod Hansen QPM, MBA, BSc (Hons), Dip Appl Crim
You can download the 'Click. Call. Connect.' leaflet by clicking on the images below.