We recognise the importance of a timely response to 101 calls and the role that technology can play in the relationship between the police and the public, which is why we are supporting national programmes developing new ways for the public to contact the police. Gloucestershire constabulary is a key beneficiary of the Single Online Home for policing, a digital 101 service.
I thank the Minister for that response, but the actual response on the 101 service is quite often far too long, and people then revert to the 999 service, putting undue pressure on it. I have a meeting with the chief constable of Gloucestershire on Wednesday, and I will certainly make those points to him. Is there any more the Government can do to improve the 101 service?
It is no surprise that a Member of Parliament who is himself very accessible to his constituents on an almost 24/7 basis should want the same for the police. While I would love to sit behind my desk in Whitehall and manage these things from the centre, the truth is that the response times and the disposition of 101 is a matter for the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable in his county. I know that, if he meets them, they will listen to him carefully, because it is extremely important, as he says, that when people pick up the phone to the police—whether it is the 101 service or the 999 service—they do get a good and efficient response. There is nothing that can undermine the confidence of a person in their police force than getting just a recorded message or, indeed, a call that is never answered. Some of that solution is technological and we think that much can be achieved through the Single Online Home, and I urge him to explore it as a reporting mechanism. I wish him good luck with his meeting, and look forward to hearing the conclusions of it.