POLICE operators are answering 999 calls quicker, new figures have shown.

Last year, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) chiefs admitted they could improve after it emerged that staff took longer than one minute to answer 7,859 emergency calls in the 12 months up to the end of October 2012.

To address the issue, they took on more call handlers.

The Bury Times and Radcliffe Times has now obtained the latest statistics under the Freedom of Information Act which show an improvement in most areas.

The number of 999 calls made in the 12 months up to the end of October 2013 that were not answered within one minute is 7,094 — 1.4 per cent compared with 1.6 per cent the previous year.

In all, 92 per cent of calls were answered within 10 seconds compared with 91 per cent the previous year and the force answered calls faster in the summer than in the previous summer.

On average, there were 55 calls countywide every minute throughout the year and the busiest month was July, when an average of 1,616 were made per day.

No statistics covering Bury alone were available.

Bury Council’s crime representative, Cllr Sandra Walmsley, said: “I’d like to congratulate GMP on how they have dealt with this issue, as the figures show we have seen improved response rates from emergency call handlers.

“We have been working in partnership to address community safety in the borough and, although there has been a increase in the numbers of calls the 999 service is having to deal with, this has been balanced by improving crime figures within Bury.

“We are by no means complacent and will continue to endeavour to work with communities to help people stay safe.”

GMP’s operational communications branch manager Diane Grandidge said: “We constantly aim to improve the service we give to the people of Greater Manchester, and the improvement in the speed with which we answer and deal with 999 calls is a good indicator of this.

“The call-handling role is a very challenging one, but we pride ourselves on having a high calibre of staff who are very dedicated to providing a great service on behalf of Greater Manchester Police.”