Making a 999 call in an emergency can be hugely distressing; it is incredibly difficult trying to relay accurate and important information over the phone under pressure. Fortunately a highly skilled team of Call Handlers are on the other line waiting to take these calls.
Call Handlers are trained to deal with a whole range of situations and used to working under extreme pressure. Once a 999 call is placed, the person phoning is asked which service they require, if they select police service, they will be redirected to the police communications division for the area in which the caller is phoning from. The work of a police call handler is very busy, for example, the West Yorkshire Police Department receives over 11,000 999 calls per week. 25% of these require an immediate response.
Despite awareness campaigns, up to two thirds of all calls received by call handlers are not emergencies. A handler must remain professional at all times and make a quick judgement on whether immediate response is required.
Answering 999 calls quickly can mean the difference between life and death, therefore most police forces have devised certain targets to ensure that calls are answered promptly: they are to be answered within 10 seconds and if the call requires the police force, this must be realised within ten minutes of being answered. The force are continually trying to improve their services, and new technology and computer systems are making this possible.