Fears as calls to South Yorkshire Police exceed 850,000 a year

The Atlas Court call handling centre
The Atlas Court call handling centre

Fears have been raised about the pressure facing South Yorkshire Police as the number of calls received by the force exceeds 850,000 a year.

Figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the force 851,401 calls last year - 220,755 which were 999 calls and 630,646 which were non-emergency calls.

So far this year the force has received 510,147 calls, including 136,634 to the emergency 999 service.

Since 2010, when 184,164 calls to the force were received, the number has increased year on year.

Labour is warning that nationally the police service is at 'breaking point' as calls to police forces continue to rise while police officer numbers drop.

Official figures show that since 2010, South Yorkshire Police has lost 458 police officers, with 2,974 employed then compared to 2,516 now.

The force now deals with an average of 53,359 non-emergency calls a month, up from 30,694 in 2010.

Other forces across the country are also dealing with unprecedented demand, with the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest force, now taking over two million calls a year.

MP Lousie Haigh, who represents Heeley, has called on the Government to re-think its police service funding.

She claims a seven year pay cap for police officers has seen morale collapse and that officers are £6,000 per year worse off in real terms, with wages failing to keep pace with inflation.

A recent Police Federation pay and morale survey revealed low morale among South Yorkshire bobbies, with pay and workload among the issues causing concern among the rank and file.

Ms Haigh claims Labour would recruit 10,000 extra bobbies and lift the pay cap.

“These figures starkly demonstrate why the police have warned they are facing a perfect storm," she added.

"Emergency calls have skyrocketed, the terror threat is unprecedented, and they are forced to step in to deal with mental health issues thanks to cutbacks elsewhere - all as officer numbers fall.

“It is no surprise that police morale is at rock bottom when the Tories have spent seven years asking them to do ever more while slashing their pay year after year.

“Tory cuts have brought South Yorkshire Police to breaking point. They must think again and give forces across the country the resources they need to tackle unprecedented demands on our police.”

“A Labour government would ease the pressure on overstretched forces by recruiting 10,000 extra police officers and lift the pay cap so our dedicated police officers are properly rewarded.”

A Home Office spokesman said: "Every person contacting 999 and 101 deserves a good service from the police and their calls to be handled within a reasonable time. We expect the crimes reported to them to be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and, wherever possible, the perpetrators brought to justice.

“Despite the very welcome decrease in traditionally recorded crime, we are sensitive to the pressures the police face which is why we have today announced a pay award worth a total of two per cent for frontline officers and begun a programme of engagement with the police to better understand the demands and how these can best be managed.

“The Government has also protected overall police spending in real terms in a fair funding deal, with South Yorkshire Police having received £1.7 million more in total direct resource funding this year than 2015-16.”

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “South Yorkshire Police has faced a significant increase in demand in terms of what people would readily recognise as crime, but also a range of other calls where the public turn to us.

“Our staff continue to work with great commitment, bravery and compassion to protect the people of South Yorkshire and as a force we will endeavour to make the most effective use of the resources we have to keep people safe and support our officers and staff.

"We are currently moving officers back into neighbourhoods as we believe working with local communities to prevent crime happening in the first place is the best way to reduce the demands placed on us whilst building on public confidence.”