Long waits when calling the 101 non-emergency police number have been criticised by Brighton and Hove city councillors.
Brighton and Hove’s divisional commander Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell answered questions about crime statistics and policing at the neighbourhoods, inclusion, communities and equality committee meeting on Monday (July 2).
Labour Councillor Mo Marsh, who is also a member of the police and crime panel, expressed her concern about callers waiting for the non-emergency 101 service.
She said: “This obviously has to get better because it is not fit for purpose as people are holding on for too long.”
Ch Supt Bell said: “There is increasing demand. Some is legitimate, some people use us as a taxi service or contact is not related to policing.
“We are seeing an increase in 999 calls over 101.”
The average wait on 101, according to figures supplied to Ch Supt Bell is seven minutes and 56 seconds.
She pointed out there is a ‘significant shift’ to people reporting crime online.
Ch Supt Bell explained there is a triage system when people call 101, with some put through for investigation and others for a quick resolution and crime number.
Conservative Councillor Gary Pelzer-Dunn told the committee he had heard of someone who gave up after six hours waiting for 101 to pick up.
In 2017/18 there were a total of 26,142 crimes recorded by the police in Brighton & Hove, a 1.4% increase compared with 2016/17.
Green councillor Pete West described the statistics “depressing”, citing the increase in domestic and sexual violence.
He said: “We are reminded here of the demand that this increase is putting pressure on The Portal.”
The Portal is a service provided for survivors of abuse and violence in the city and East Sussex.
Mr West also expressed his concern about the increase in stolen bicycles in the city, up 27 per cent from 865 in 2016-17 to 1,097 in 2017-18.
Ch Supt Bell said: “We have a huge number of cyclists in the city and this has a seasonal impact when the weather is better.
“I’m hugely exasperated by the spate of bike thefts.”
“We have been making numerous arrests and received numerous calls.”
She urged people to keep their bikes secure.
Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.