We have seen significant growth in the use of our online services, by an astonishing 114% in just 18 months. Digital services that launched only 6 months ago are already taking over 50% of reports compared to phone calls on our 101 line. This significant shift has resulted in a big reduction in our 101 and 999 call abandonment rate.

How have we done this? You’ll expect us to say with super new shiny technology, and whilst that would be partially true, our first answer has to be that we did it through teamwork across the organisation and a relentless focus on solving human problems.

The technology is of-course an enabler, and we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t pause to give credit for our solutions that have enabled this to happen. 

However, unless we had focussed on understanding the human problems we are trying to solve with the technology we’d have been wasting our time and wouldn’t have seen these results.

Our call centre has worked, and continue to work closely with digital services to understand the incoming demand across both our analogue and digital channels. We also work with colleagues from our front offices on a regular basis. They do a great job receiving and processing our online reports from the public.

It is important that we have a holistic view of the demand across our channels as this gives us the insights to be able to prioritise and rapidly roll out new digital forms for the public to make reporting easier for them and reduce pressure on our analogue channels.

This sounds so obvious, why wouldn’t the heads of each channel work together? Sadly this doesn’t happen in lots of organisations where a siloed mentality still exists.

To maximise digital opportunities we have worked to ensure our internal processes are as efficient as possible. This has included how we handle reports, removing complexity and providing integration with core police applications.

We have also worked jointly to review the IVR (Interactive voice response) system where the public, upon calling 101, are asked to choose options based on the nature of their call to be signposted to either an online service, another organisation or the correct police team.

Some examples of our recently launched services are as follows:

Find your schools officer

We have launched a tool to help members of the public and schools find their local school’s officer. The tool also links to the associated officer’s profile, so they can be contacted via the website.

Claim for compensation form

This was previously a Word form that needed downloading, printing off to complete and then posting or scanning and emailing to our Professional Standards Department. Users can now fill this in online and upload their receipts or estimates for any repairs or replacements.

And lots more…..

This all sounds great, but what difference has it made?

Before we get into some figures, this feedback regarding the online collision reporting form sums it up nicely.

“I went into Taunton police station and asked the officer at the enquiry’s desk what I could/should do in this situation. She advised me to fill out a collisions report form and could do this online at home as it would be easier considering I had my 5-year-old son with me asleep in my arms.

I found this way of reporting to the police very helpful especially as it gave me the opportunity to source out all my required details at home while I completed it.”

– member of the public

We have seen so far:

  • Significant reductions in our abandoned call rate on 101 and 999 lines
  • Reduced officer time retrieving digital evidence (approximately 2000 PCSO hours saved to date)
  • Equivalent saving of over £100,000 (per annum) in costs within our Investigation Assessment Unit.
  • Over 71,000 online form submissions in the last 18 months – that’s potentially 71,000 phone calls saved.

We have said before, digital is an ongoing effort, not a one-off product.  We have many more services rolling out soon and continue to review and adapt with our colleagues. 

Digital is an organisation wide team effort, not just the responsibility of the digital team.