Fewer emergency calls reached in police target time

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 August 2014 | UPDATED: 09:04 11 August 2014

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POLICE are taking longer to respond to emergency calls due to workforce reductions and other changes designed to save money.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has set itself the same target response times since 2010, but the number of emergencies reached in those times have fallen – some by almost 10 per cent.

These are the findings in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which blames the drop on money-saving efforts resulting from Government cuts.

The proportion of emergency calls reached within the target of 15 minutes has declined in urban areas from 93 per cent in 2010-11 financial year to 87.7 per cent in 2013-14.

In rural areas, there has also been a drop from 88 per cent to 83.3 per cent.

Slightly lower ‘grade two’ calls, which have a 60-minute response time target, have seen a nine per cent drop in the number reached within the ideal timeframe.

Despite this, the average response time for a call in Weston is 10.6 minutes – and police bosses say a move from its station in Walliscote Road to Junction 21 will give better access to emergencies.

Chief Inspector Alex Cohen, area commander for North Somerset, said: “The report shows that the slightly lower grade two, or priority calls, have seen a nine per cent reduction in being answered within our target time

“But we remain absolutely committed to responding quickly to those who most need our help and are allocating our resources to the grade one, higher priority calls.

“We feel that this would be in line with what the public would expect. Residents should be reassured that our commitment to fighting crime and keeping people safe is absolute, despite the financial challenges we face.

“In relation to the proposed location for the new patrol base, close to junction 21, we feel it will give the police force much better access to Weston, and surrounding areas.

“It’s easy to get snarled up in traffic in busy town centres so locating patrol hubs on the outskirts of town gives greater flexibility.

“While officers begin their shift and have their briefing at their base, patrol officers spend the majority of their shift out in the community, each car or unit covering designated areas, and therefore the time it takes to respond to members of the public shouldn’t be adversely affected in the centre of Weston.

“We are also investing in mobile IT equipment that will enable to officers to complete various tasks out in the community, rather than having to return to their base.”

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