DORSET Police has apologised for delays in answering 101 calls, blaming the problems on an influx of tourists and staff restructuring.

The force said delays in answering non-emergency phone calls were due to an increase in visitors to the county and an increase in the number of calls to the 101 service.

They are receiving around 1,500 extra non-emergency calls a week this year, compared to the same period in 2013.

The increase in the number of calls has coincided with the amalgamation of the police enquiry centre and the force control room into one force command centre at Winfrith.

Dorset Police is currently recruiting more call handlers but said that delays in answering 101 calls could continue over the summer.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “The introduction of the new force contact centre and an unprecedented rise in call demand ahead of the busiest time of the year for Dorset Police has created a perfect storm.

“This has led to unacceptable delays and for that I apologise on behalf of the force. I am working hard with the chief constable to ensure Dorset Police provides an effective and efficient service to residents across the county.”

Residents are urged to call outside of peak times and report problems online where possible.