THE performance of Thames Valley Police's non-emergency 101 hotline was 'dreadful' last year, according to the deputy police and crime commissioner.

Matthew Barber conceded it took too long for calls to be answered but insisted it was taking less time for them to be picked up by operators this year.

According to TVP's own statistics, on average it took eight minutes to get through to an operator on 101 in 2018.

But it said it is now taking an average of less than three minutes.

Mr Barber said: "We know the performance of 101 was really bad last year. There’s no point pretending it wasn’t. It was dreadful and that puts a lot of people off.

"It reduces confidence in the public reporting crime and that’s not good enough."

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Currently, according to TVP figures, the average time for callers to wait until they are answered is two minutes and 45 seconds.

Mr Barber said: "The target is to get [all calls answered] in less than three minutes next year and to get the call waiting time to two minutes.

"We are there at the moment under three minutes so we’ve achieved the target that we’ve set ourselves. There will be outliers to that but when I’ve used the service recently it has been improving."

Mr Barber, who is set to stand as the Conservatives' candidate for the Thames Valley's police and crime commissioner next year, is former leader of Vale of White Horse District Council.

He appeared at the county council's performance scrutiny committee with chief constable, John Campbell.