Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
December 9, 2014
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis


Thank you, Chair.  Good afternoon, Commissioner.  Good afternoon, Mayor.


Commissioner, can I just talk to you about police response times?  I can see from the tables which MOPAC has provided to us that the emergency response times of the police across London for the past two years have slipped in the wrong direction, particularly for Category S, which is the ‘respond in one hour’, and Category E, which is the ‘respond to within 48 hours’.  Second and third priority response times have gotten worse.  I notice this particularly because it has affected my own borough;  Southwark have lost 5% of their Category E response time and I think London wide it has slipped from 93% to 76%.  There are some big slippages on this.  Why do you think this is happening and is there anything you can do to remedy this?


Answer for Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for Meeting London’s Current and Future Policing Needs (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

There are two things.  First of all the numbers that you did not mention were the emergency response times, where in fact the target has gotten quicker and our performance has got better.  We have moved now to 90%-odd of the calls we are getting to on time, where there is an emergency which is a life-saving event, or alternatively there is an offender at the scene.  I think we would all agree that those things are the most important.


There is no doubt during these last couple of years, because we have seen a couple of thousand off the height that we are getting back to the 32,000 that some of those pressures of vacancies have fallen to the response teams and so, therefore, the prioritisation has meant in some areas we have seen some drop off from the one hour [response time].  I cannot remember the numbers now but we can discover this for you.  It is not an awful lot longer than the hour that we are getting to them.  Those are the cases where we think it is a reasonable response time.  On the whole we are doing pretty well on all our responses to the, now I think it is about, 4.5 million telephone calls we get a year.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Yes, I take the point.  I am talking about the second and third priority issues.  Of course third priority, things like follow-up to burglaries are very important to public confidence.  Do you think that the slip back on the Category E-type calls has anything to do with the fact that the local police teams are overstretched?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I do not think so.  What you could see as an effect—obviously  we have changed our local policing model and that has taken some time to bed in and we have acknowledged that by having a review.  There were two things.  One is that people are working differently, so we are expecting the neighbourhood teams to answer some of those calls as well as leave them entirely to their response colleagues.  The second thing is, as I said, the vacancies that were discussed, we know that the policing model was not fully staffed and would not be until we get to this March period when we expect to see it fully staffed.  The combined effect of that is really what has led to the situation you described.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Earlier in the year you said to my colleague Joanne [Joanne McCartney AM] that you were looking at reviewing the local policing model.  Is this an issue that is in the pot for discussion?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Is what, sorry?


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Is this an issue under examination and discussion?  Can you recover the response times for the second and third categories?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Oh sure, yes, because, as I say, as we fully staff up each of the units then that is entirely possible.  It just means that we are going to have to work harder and slightly differently when we have got the resources in place.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  By which time do you think you will manage to recuperate the response times?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  I would have thought between March and June then we should see those back up to the full level that we have experienced before.  We always knew, since I have been here, is if you remember what happened was we had to find £600 million of savings.  The only way to do that was not to recruit.  We could not recruit until we had identified the savings.  It took us eighteen months to identify the savings.  We have now started recruiting so I expect those are the things that will now start to improve again.


As I said, in response to Joanne [McCartney AM] it is not that we stopped going to things, you just have to prioritise when you are low on resources, which we were across the force at that time.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  You are not looking at changing those target times then?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  No.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  No, OK.


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  It seems to me those are reasonable ones.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  That you want to stick to if you can?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Yes.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  I understand that the vision for emergency response teams was that they would also spend 30% of their time dedicated to visible patrolling.  Is that being squeezed as well?


Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  No.  We will find out the exact answer if you want one, because it is hard to measure, as you might understand.  Generally, response officers should be out there responding to the calls. That is their job.  The only thing we do find, obviously if we do not get the bureaucracy right and the IT right they spend too much time at the police station recording the things that they have been dealing with, so I think that is the only pressure we have seen particularly.  I would not expect the visibility for the response clocks to have changed drastically.


Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  OK, thank you.