Police in Bradford have been told to stop calling the speaking clock after more than 900 calls were made over two years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show staff in West Yorkshire Police’s Airedale and Bradford North and Bradford South divisions dialled the 123 number 928 times between 2010-12, racking up a bill of £287.68.

But the number of calls fell to zero in 2012-13 when officers were told to use free alternatives to check the time.

Figures show that from 2010-12, staff at the force’s Airedale and North Bradford division forked out £234.98 on a total of 758 calls to the speaking clock at 31p a call.

The Bradford South division made 170 calls to the number during the same period, racking up a bill of £52.70.

Across all divisions of West Yorkshire Police, the speaking clock was called 2,509 times, costing £777.79. Wakefield division, where West Yorkshire Police has its HQ, made the most calls – 983 between 2010-13.

Campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance branded the use of the speaking clock an “incredible waste.” Matthew Sinclair, its chief executive, said: “West Yorkshire Police staff need to show proper care when spending taxpayers’ money and not waste valuable time dawdling on the phone waiting for the third pip from the talking clock.”

But a police spokesman said the speaking clock had been used to allow officers to record crimes and details relating to crimes.

The spokesman said: “When taking crime details it is important for legal and evidential purposes that precise timings are recorded, leading to the use of recognised sources such as the speaking clock. The force is aware of the cost of using this facility and has been actively reducing calls to the speaking clock through 2013 through the introduction of a recorded message advising of alternative free-of-charge time sources.”

Councillor Imran Hussain, Bradford Council’s executive member for safer and stronger communities, said: “I’m pretty astonished that in this day and age anyone still uses that service. There are so many other devices people carry which can tell the time.”