RESIDENTS reporting antisocial behaviour say they were left waiting more than two hours on the police’s under-fire 101 phone system last week.

Thursday and Friday evening in Darton were plagued by illegal off-road bikers, residents claim, which prompted them to ring the non-emergency line.

However, according to Liberal Democrat Coun Steve Hunt, some were left waiting 30 minutes on Thursday and more than two hours a day later.

Coun Steve Hunt said: “I am extremely disappointed that the police were not able to support the local

community in Darton during these serious incidents of antisocial behaviour.

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“This left local residents feeling completely abandoned. Being unable to get through on the 101 service within a reasonable timescale is completely unacceptable.

“Council taxpayers in Barnsley have recently seen a 14 per cent increase in the amount for South Yorkshire Police in the expectation of a better service.

“I am calling on the police to investigate urgently what happened to the 101 service and why they were not subsequently able to provide adequate support to worried Darton residents.”

The latest in a long line of setbacks comes after users were promised significant improvements to ease the call-taking process at Atlas Court, South Yorkshire Police’s Sheffield communications hub where all calls go, which launched in a revised format late last year.

The average waiting time for people dialling 101 now stands at five minutes and 34 seconds with 999 calls averaging a 15-second hold, according to a progress report given to South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings in the spring.

The call abandonment rate was about 40 per cent last year and is now 21 per cent, while a call-back feature has been implemented.

Dr Billings said: “The 101 system has been a cause of great frustration since before I became commissioner.

“We commissioned new IT and in 2018 a new system, Smart Contact, was introduced.

“As expected, there were some initial delays reported in people trying to contact us via 101 as our staff began to use the system in a full 24/7 operational environment.

“However, these have reduced

significantly now and will continue as our staff continue gain experience with this new IT.”

The force currently takes around 14,000 non-emergency calls on the 101 lines each day.

On average, another 700 go through the 999 system.

The demand on both has grown in recent years.

“Demand on all police forces is high and it’s vitally important that the 101 and 999 lines be used appropriately so that those who need to get through quickly can,” added Dr Billings.