Response time to urgent 999 calls in Kingston is worst in London

Kingston has the worst response time to urgent 999 calls in London according to a recent report.

The report found that Kingston had an 8% drop in quarterly urgent call response time targets being met since last year, meaning that only 82% of these calls were reached within the 15-minute target.

This is the lowest attainment rate in London with only two other boroughs, Brent and Hounslow with an 82% urgent call response.

I calls, or immediate calls, refer to calls that operators see as a genuine emergency and cover crimes such as shootings and stabbings.

A failure to meet response time targets was seen across the rest of south west London with Merton seeing a 4% drop, Richmond seeing a 3% drop and Wandsworth at 2%.

According to the report, 24 of the 32 London boroughs are currently below the 90% attendance targets for I grade emergency calls, with the rise blamed on a rise in the number of emergency calls and a shortage of police officers.

In terms of volume of calls, the first quarter of this year saw an increase of 9,457 urgent calls compared to the previous quarter.

Another reason cited for the fall in response time is the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) structural change to Basic Command Unit (BCU) Structure.

Sally Benatar, South West BCU commander, said: “Whilst response times remain in line with the Metropolitan Police average in Merton and Wandsworth boroughs, they have increased for both Kingston and Richmond boroughs. We are taking a number of steps to reduce response times in the face of increasing operational demand across the four boroughs.

“One of these steps is to reduce the demand on response officers by diverting calls that don’t need a face-to-face response to our Local Resolution Team or Telephone and Digital Investigation Unit, whilst ensuring that the most appropriate response is provided to each caller according to their needs and the level of risk. 

“Another is to make sure the closest vehicle available is always despatched to the call through improved command and control.

“I expect my response officers to arrive at incidents safely, and as promptly as possible, and to provide an excellent service to the public when they do arrive. 

“I am proud of the service they provide and the way they deal with whatever they are faced with, with courage and compassion.

“I am confident that the response times for Kingston and Richmond will improve with the internal measures I am taking.”

In June 2018 the South West BCU was created which brings together Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth.

This has meant that response teams cover a larger area with fewer officers in a bid to be more efficient and provide a more joined up, victim-focused service, as well as save money. 

According to the MOPAC report in June 2018 the South West BCU saw a significant decrease in response time targets.

The MPS said they were recruiting more call handlers and using technology to help connect non-emergency callers more quickly to help improve response times. They also said they were introducing new, digital ways for Londoners to contact police.

Feature image credit: Slinkierbus268 – CC BY-SA 4.0, with thanks.

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