Create a panel to examine complaints

The Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to create a 101 Service Improvement Panel to provide further scrutiny of the Force's customer service provision.

In order to provide an effective police service, it is essential that members of the public can contact their local force in order to report crimes, call for assistance and pass on important community intelligence.  

It is vital that the Force has processes and systems in place to ensure matters of threat, risk and harm are prioritised, while also providing timely and valuable assistance to public enquiries.

There is a huge amount of demand placed on police forces and public contact has increased in recent years, while police budgets have reduced significantly since the 2010 spending cuts. Dorset residents have advised the PCC of their concerns about the 101 non-emergency service – raising issues about waiting times that are common across most forces in England and Wales.

In 2016, the PCC launched a 101 Improvement Panel, to review the non-emergency contact service provided by Dorset Police.

The panel heard compelling evidence that many calls to 101 were unnecessary – that either they were addressed to the wrong agency, or that the relevant information was hosted online. The scope of the panel was therefore broadened to include other forms of contact – such as social media activity and the Force website.

The Customer Service Improvement Panel, as it is now known, scrutinises the quality of public contact handling, response times and the efforts being made to ‘channel shift’ or, in other words, route members of the public to more efficient forms of contact.

The panel considers overall performance data of the non-emergency service and looks closely at a random selection of calls made to the service to evaluate their handling. It is currently chaired by the PCC, and panel members include voluntary groups, elected members and other members of the public. The panel also includes regular inputs from a guest speaker, typically drawn from the public or commercial sector, to gain an outside perspective.

As a result of the panel’s feedback, the Force has adopted new service standards and, on those occasions that these standards aren’t met, members of the public are proactively contacted to explain why this should be the case.

Further, the Force uses the opinions and advice offered by the panel to shape communication campaigns, recruitment activity and improve systems and processes. The panel also invites organisations with excellent records of customer service to share their advice, so that the Force can identify best practice in this area.

Recommendations from the panel are reported to the Force’s Legitimacy Board and additional actions are agreed in consultation with the Chief Constable.

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