MILLIONS of pounds is to be spent over the next two years improving 999 and 101 calls to North Yorkshire Police.

Police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, announced today she intends to spend more than £3 million to improve both the emergency and non-emergency calls service provided by the force's control room.

The investment will come on top of improvements made last year, following a drop in performance due to a surge in calls, amid public concerns.

The measures have so far resulted in the average time taken to answer a 101 call falling from three minutes and 35 seconds in August to one minute and six seconds last month.

Now, and in anticipation of a further increase in demand over the busier summer months, additional improvements will be made.

They include new accommodation at Fulford Road, York, for the larger team of call handlers and staff, and improved training allowing people to be taught in smaller groups.

Some 32 additional full time staff will be taken on, there will be new, state of the art IT equipment, and a new crime and occurrence management unit, to improve crime recording.

Mrs Mulligan said she was making the investment in response to complaints from people.

“The public has been crystal clear that the performance of the 101 number in particular has not been good enough—this has also impacted on the vital 999 service. While I am pleased that the force has already put in place measures to improve matters, this investment will, over time, ensure that busy periods do not cause substantial issues and that the police have what they need to provide a first class service to the public," she said.

Mrs Mulligan said investment in the service had been helped with last month's increase in the police precept on council tax, by £11.50 per year for the average household.

“There was never going to be an overnight ‘fix’ to the issues, but the additional money raised by the recent increase in policing precept has allowed me to make a substantial investment in the 101 service, which I know is a number one priority," she said.

Superintendent Mike Walker, said: “Demand in the Force Control Room shows no sign of reducing and although we have put various measures in place to improve the service over recent months, we need a sustainable and resilient solution for the future. This additional funding will provide that and ensure our service continues to improve.

“Members of the public can also do their bit, and only call us when it is a police-related matter to ensure our lines are kept free for people in need of genuine police assistance."

And, he said anyone who was unsure who to call should look at the police website, which contained advice on a number of situations, from noise nuisance to stray dogs.