WILTSHIRE's police force takes the second longest amount of time to answer 999 calls in the whole country, new data has revealed.

Between February 2023 to February 2024, it took Wiltshire Police on average 19.03 seconds to answer a 999 call.

The only worse-performing force in this respect was Bedfordshire Police which averaged 30.56 seconds.

The official national target for all police forces is to answer 90 per cent of their 999 calls within 10 seconds yet none of them are meeting it, with 80.76 per cent being the nationwide average.

However Wiltshire Police saw only 70.23 per cent of its emergency calls answered in under 10 seconds which ranks it the worst in the country.

Comparatively, Lincolnshire Police was the top-performing force, answering 88.8 per cent of its calls within 10 seconds.

Salisbury Journal: New data has revealed how long it took BT to transfer 999 calls to Wiltshire Police.New data has revealed how long it took BT to transfer 999 calls to Wiltshire Police. (Image: Getty)

Wiltshire Police has also become slower at answering calls. Additional data shows the force took 16.5 seconds on average to answer a call in 2021 so its performance has fallen by 15.33 per cent.

These call-answering times were the time it took for calls to be transferred from BT operators to each police force.

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police partly blamed the telecommunications company for the slowness, they said: "Call answering time refers to the time between a caller dialling 999 and them getting through to a Wiltshire Police call handler.

"It’s important to understand that the first element of this is the initial handling of the call by BT. 

"That side of the call process is largely out of our control and we are in conversations with BT about what can be done to bring this time down."

The spokesperson said this is a "challenge nationally", not just for Wiltshire.

They added: "However, it should be noted that we are meeting our target response times for rural locations (20 minutes) and urban areas (15 minutes) in the vast majority of cases - this is the important part as it relates directly to us being able to respond effectively to the communities we serve

"And because of the investments we have made in the control room, we are seeing these attendance rates continuing to improve."

Working with BT to make improvements

A BT spokesperson said: “The data that BT provides to government to inform the police 999 call answer league tables is collected and calculated uniformly across the country. Our data is based on the answer time of a 999 call, once a BT operator acknowledges a human answer by the relevant emergency service.

"We understand that police forces measure call times in different ways, using different systems, so there are likely to be discrepancies in how their data is captured and presented.

“We are working with many police forces, including Wiltshire, to share information on call transfers, to see if improvements can be made to help reduce the time they take to answer calls."