Managing demand in the control room

Since February until April 2018, we carried out a survey to discover the challenges facing control rooms across the UK. The full survey results will soon be published in the form of a whitepaper - let’s take a look at the insights from the initial data analysis.

Call volumes over the last year

Respondents unanimously reported increased call-volumes in their roles in the control room, based on their experiences throughout the past year. 

999 cals.PNG
  • 75% of respondents taking 999 calls stated that call volumes have increased in the last 12 months and increases in call volumes ranged dramatically from 5% to almost 100% across respondents.
  • 70% of respondents taking 101 calls stated that call volumes have increased in the last 12 months, with 25% stating a decline in call volumes.


These figures broadly concur with Freedom of Information requests to control rooms in the past year as well as published figures from several UK regions.

Why an increase in call volumes?

As part of our research, we've been exploring the underlying drivers of such increased call volumes.

Whilst there is little UK-wide statistical evidence publically available as to why calls to 999 and 101 have increased, there have been a number of articles, reports and studies outlining some rationale for an increase. 

Extreme Weather

A study carried out by Birmingham University in 2017, highlighted correlation between air temperature and demand placed upon London Ambulance call-out incidents and response times. The study demonstrated that, in London, the speed of ambulance response begins to suffer when the mean daily air temperature drops below 2 degrees centigrade or rose above 20 degrees centigrade. This is explained largely by the increased number of calls past these threshold temperatures.

Mental Health

In 2017, the metropolitan police reported receiving a mental health related call every 5 minutes which equates to 315 a day. That’s a 33% increase over 3 years and comes with a 60% increase in referrals to the NHS mental health crises team.

Increase in fraud and online crime

Action Fraud reported an increase of 1.5% in Fraud in 2016/17 with 345,807 crimes reported with fraudulent losses increasing 65% to £1.7bn. Approximately 35,000 cyber-related crimes were also reported in the same period, with losses valued at £67m

Accessibility to technology in order to report crime

According to Ofcom 2017 data, fixed broadband connectivity had increased by 3% to 82% across the UK, and mobile phone ownership reached 96%. Access to the internet via a smartphone has increased from 20% in 2009 to 66% in 2017. Taking a look at mobile phone access for children - smartphone ownership is higher compared to the previous year among all 5-15s (46% vs. 41%) with this increase evident among 5-7s (5% vs. 2%) and 8-11s (39% vs. 32%).

Population Growth

The latest available data from the Office of National Statistics, published in June 2017, showed that UK’s population rose at its sharpest rate for 70 years, with London’s growth rate more than twice that of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and three northern English regions. The UK’s population had grown by 538,000 to 65.7m. The UK population is projected to continue growing, reaching over 74 million by 2039. The population in the UK is also getting older with 18% aged 65 and over and 2.4% aged 85 and over. These changes in population demographics are likely to only increase call volumes further.

Demand management

Recognising that there's a universal increase in demand on critical and emergency control rooms and their resources, a core focus of the research is building knowledge about:

Demand management - reporting crime online.jpg
  • The most common non-emergency 999 call-types with root-cause analysis in order to devise and deliver the best strategies to minimise or prevent misuse of emergency lines;
  • Strategies to help personnel in critical and emergency control rooms manage genuine demand from the public, including an overview of the most common new contact methods being used across the country, plus insights on the role of education and training;
  • And future technologies that could support emergency and critical control rooms to interact with the public wherever they are – online, in-person and more.

Get your copy

In the full report, we’ll conduct a deeper investigation into each of these factors to build common knowledge as to how exactly they could be significantly impacting demand on the control room - throughout the country.

If you’d like us to deliver a copy of the whitepaper to your inbox, let us know at