LAST month Wiltshire Police received more than 8,000 999 calls, a meeting in Salisbury heard.

The figures were revealed during a meeting of Salisbury Area Board, which was held at City Hall last Thursday (July 4) Inspector Pete Sparrow told councillors that the force received 8,502 999 calls, which were answered within four seconds, adding this was an “impressive average”.

There were also 13,000 calls to 101, Wiltshire Police’s non-emergency number.

Inspector Sparrow said these calls were answered, on average, within one minute 10 seconds compared to 2017 where the average was five minutes.

He said: “We have really worked on trying to get that average down and getting better trained call takers and more call takers in the right place.”

Councillor John Walsh asked about changes to the 101 service and was told it would be becoming a free service next year.

Inspector Sparrow said: “In addition to the 101 system to try and reduce the demand we have also launched online recording so we can now start doing it online.”

Currently, callers are charged a 15p connection fee to use the 101 service.

But earlier this year, the Home Office announced that calling the police non-emergency number will be free from next year.

Ministers have said from April 2020, £5 million a year will be spent to meet the connection costs.

He also told the meeting that Wiltshire Police had also seen a 26 per cent reduction in vehicle crime and 20 per cent reduction in burglary.

“They do say the absence of crime is actually the success not necessarily the detection of crime, it is the absence that should be looked for. They are the most improved trends in the country. So there is some good work going on at the moment ,” he added.

“Wiltshire Police has managed to reduce the volume of recorded crime by one per cent over the last 12 months, to the end of May. We continue to have one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”

Inspector Sparrow also gave councillors an insight into the type of incidents dealt with during a 24-hour period in south Wiltshire.

He said: “On average in one 24 hour period in the south of Wiltshire we received eight reports of vulnerable people, two people are arrested , one of which had mental health issues. We would deal with 37 response incidents, six antisocial behaviour incidents, 14 reports of crime, four domestic abuse cases, one missing person, and all of that is dealt with on average by 15 people. You get a lot of action for your money.”

Councillor Mary Douglas praised the work done by officers, adding: “Thank you very much for all you do. Everytime you speak I am reminded of how grateful I am that the police in this country are the way they are and in Salisbury are the way they are.”