AVON and Somerset Police is the only UK force answering at least 90 per cent of 999 calls in the national target of under 10 seconds, according to Home Office figures.

The constabulary's control room picked up emergency calls in an average 6.1 seconds between last November and April.

Avon and Somerset took 22,767 calls in that period, with 15,434 answered in under five seconds, and 5,274 in five to 10 seconds.

Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “Having a fast response time to answering 999 calls is vital, especially when the caller is in distress or the emergency is ongoing.

“Being able to reassure members of the public that we can answer their call quickly after they dial 999 is a great service.”

The Portishead-based contact centre's handlers receive 999 and 101 calls and work in partnership with dispatchers to co-ordinate the organisation’s police resources.

Head of command and control Becky Tipper said: “It has been a challenging year with increased 999 demand.

"The entire control room team have worked extremely hard to ensure we are there for those who call us as quickly as possible.

“999 must be prioritised for those who are in an emergency where life is at risk or offenders are on the scene."

Non-urgent matters can be reported on the force website or via 101.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford said: "Calling 999 can literally be a matter of life and death so I am delighted that Avon and Somerset Police has been identified as a high performing force.

"Local people deserve the very best police service and I hope this news...provides reassurance and encouragement for our communities.”

Of the other 43 forces failing to meet the target, Humberside Police has the worst record, with two per cent of calls answered in under 10 seconds.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The public deserve to know that their local police force will be at the end of the phone, ready to leap into action at seconds’ notice to protect them from harm."

She added: “Publishing this data is about driving up standards in our incredible emergency services even further, so that the public can have every confidence in the police’s ability to save lives and keep our streets safe."