Police response times

MQT on 2014-09-17
Session date: 
September 17, 2014
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


At last oral MQs, you undertook to investigate why police emergency response times In Barnet were so bad. Did you investigate, and what are you doing about resolving the problem?


Answer for Police response times

Answer for Police response times

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I did look at the figures that you requested and they are not too bad, in the sense the average response time for an immediate call last month was at just over ten minutes.  That is well within the 15‑minute target range.  The response to standard calls - not an emergency call, a standard call - is 52 minutes on average, which is within the one-hour target range.  Barnet was fractionally off the overall MPS target, so instead of meeting its target 90% of the time, they are on target 89.7% of the time, and clearly there is a little bit of progress to be made.  But you will bear in mind that Barnet is a very large borough and there are traffic issues sometimes and that can make fast response particularly challenging in that borough, though clearly I am sure the police in the area will take account of what we are saying today. 

Andrew Dismore AM:  You did undertake to write to me about it and you have not, but we will park that.  I do not know where you get your figures from, because I have got the most up-to-date figures here for “I” calls, the most immediate ones, and it is 87%, and that is 2.5% down over the year, and for “S” calls it is 83%, which is 5% down over the course of the year.  But the point about it is the length of time that some people have to wait.  Park the averages, look at the longest times that people have to wait.  An hour and a half for an “I” call is far too long for an emergency if somebody has phoned the police, 999, “This is an emergency” and they have to wait an hour and a half for an attendance.  That is because we do not have enough police officers in Barnet.  You describe the geography of Barnet absolutely right.  We have a bigger geography, but we do not have the police officers that we need to cover that geography and the net result is that people in Barnet have to wait far too long to have their calls answered.  We now have 61 fewer police officers than in May 2010, 84 fewer Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) than in 2010 and unless and until we get a decent number of police officers, this trend of a decline in “I” and “S” call responses will continue.  What are you going to do about that?  When are you going to -- 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There may be particular cases where an “I” call has not been answered anything like fast enough, and it may be that if there is a particular example that you wish to bring to my attention of a failure, then we could draw that to the attention of the Borough Commander and try to find out what has happened. What I can give is the average response time for an “I” call, which is nine minutes 17 seconds. 

Andrew Dismore AM:  I will tell you what happened because I raised that with you last time.  You said you would look into it.  That is exactly what I put to you last time.  Do you know what the answer was?  There were not enough police officers.  I asked the Borough Commander. There were not enough police officers because they were all engaged on another incident.  That was the problem. That was the answer. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I would be delighted if you would share that with me in more detail.

Andrew Dismore AM:  I did do last time.  You said you were going to investigate it and you did not. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What you asked me was about emergency response times in Barnet and you have had a pretty fair answer.  On average, they are well within target for emergency calls and indeed they are well within target for standard calls.  There may be particular cases ‑‑ 

Andrew Dismore AM:  Way off.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ where they have fallen short of the ideal, but I am sure they will try to do better in future. However on the whole, they are having great success not just in responding to emergency and other calls, but in bringing down crime generally and I think they should be congratulated.