Surrey Police has seen a dramatic improvement in how long it takes to answer calls for help after new figures revealed current waiting times are the lowest on record.

The force was graded ‘inadequate’ in December after a watchdog found it was answering just 77 per cent of 999 calls within 10 seconds, below the national target of 90 per cent, and nearly half of the 101 calls to the force (47 per cent) were abandoned.

But provisional data shows that, as of this February, 97.8 per cent of 999 calls were answered within the national target of 10 seconds. This compares to only 54 per cent in March last year, and is the highest data on force record.

Meanwhile, the average time in February that it took Surrey Police to answer calls to the non-emergency 101 number fell to 36 seconds, the lowest wait times on force record. This compares to 715 seconds in March 2023.

In December last year, a report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Services (HMICFRS) highlighted concerns around the service residents receive when they contact police on 999, 101 and digital 101.

Inspectors visited Surrey Police during the summer as part of their Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) review. They rated the force’s performance in responding to the public as ‘inadequate’ and said improvements were needed.

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said the issues last year were caused by staff shortages putting an “incredible” strain on Surrey’s “phenomenal” call handlers.

She added: “This has not been a quick fix – we have seen these improvements sustained over the last five months and with the measures now in place I am confident going forward that Surrey Police will maintain this level of service when responding to the public.”