North Yorkshire Police is asking members of the public to visit the UK Government’s website if they can for queries about COVID-19 to help keep their phone lines free.

It follows a change in the nature of calls the force is receiving this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Force Control Room, the place that handles every 101 or 999 call for police in North Yorkshire, deals with around 30,000 incoming calls per month – equating to around 1,000 per day.

Of those, 8,000 calls per month are ‘999’ calls which typically require an immediate response.

The team make a further 15,000 outbound calls per month to request other emergency services to incidents, such as the Fire Service, Ambulance, Coastguard, other rescue services, local councils and the Highways Agency.

Since the outbreak, calls have increased by 5% compared to last year.

Many of the calls that relate to the current COVID-19 restrictions could have been answered by visiting the gov.uk website where the latest information is available.

North Yorkshire Police’s Force Control Room Manager, Jane Larkin, said:

“Over the last few months, and mainly due to the COIVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a significant change in the types of calls we get into the Force Control Room. Understandably, people are often confused or unsure about the current COVID-19 restrictions and want to ask questions or be reassured that they are doing the right thing.

“We would ask members of the public to visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus rather than calling 101 if they need advice or guidance on the latest COVID-19 restrictions. Also, if people wish to tell us about a serious breach of the current restrictions then they can do so through our website at www.northyorkshire.police.uk.

“For all other enquiries please continue to use the 101 number. We are experiencing high call volumes at the moment, and you may have to wait, but we will get to you. Alternatively, if our 101 lines are busy, please press 1, leave your details and we’ll get back in touch with you through our call back service to save you hanging on the phone.

“Always dial 999 in an emergency.”

The Force Control Room in stats

 North Yorkshire Police’s Force Control Room handles around 30,000 calls per month

  • 8,000 of those are 999 calls
  • The team make approximately another 15,000 calls per month to request the support of other emergency services to incidents across North Yorkshire
  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic calls have increased by 5% compared to last year
  • The calls relating to COVID-19 typically tend to be lengthy so call duration is increasing.
  • In July and August 2020 the force saw the highest volume of 999 calls in 11 years

 

When to call 101 or 999

 Is it an emergency?

  • Is there a threat to life (including road traffic incidents where someone is injured or the road is blocked)?
  • Does it feel like the situation could get heated or violent very soon?
  • Is there a risk of serious damage to property?
  • Is a serious offence in progress?
  • There’s serious disruption to the public or there could be?

If so, always call 999.

 

Do you need to contact the police but your situation does not require immediate attention?

  • Has a car has been stolen?
  • Has a property been damaged?
  • Do you suspect drug use or dealing?
  • Do you want to report a minor traffic accident, or
  • Do you want to give the police information about ASB or crime in your area?

If so, use the 101 non-emergency number. If lines are busy, press 1, leave your details and someone will get back in touch with you – to save you hanging on the phone.

 

When to go online

  • If you need advice or guidance on the latest COVID-19 restrictions, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus where the latest information is available.
  • If you think there is a serious breach of the COVID-19 rules, you can visit northyorkshire.police.uk and report online rather than calling 101.