Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands Police to increase 999 response times

Emergency response times by West Midlands Police are being increased to 15 minutes from the present 10 minutes.

The plans were outlined by the police authority, with priority response being extended to 60 minutes instead of 30.

A statement from the authority said the proposal would put response targets in line with those used by other forces.

A Freedom of Information request has shown that in 2010/11 police did not attend 32,000 emergency response calls within 10 minutes.

Decision criticised

It did attend 65,000 in the allotted time.

The figures were taken from incidents recorded between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011.

The previous year, police attended about 66,000 within 10 minutes, but did not attend 24,700 in that time.

In 2010/11, the force attended 67,615 within the allotted 30 minutes but did not attend 54,086 on time.

Emergency calls are where a 999 call has been made and a serious incident, a burglary for example, is under way, West Midlands Police said.

A less urgent call, one which could be responded to within the hour, might be for criminal damage, the spokesman added.

The police authority said the new target times had been submitted by the force's chief constable.

'Better quality'

Neighbouring Staffordshire and West Mercia forces have an emergency response time of 15 minutes in urban areas and 20 minutes for rural areas.

Greater Manchester Police also has an emergency response time of 15 minutes.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said the change would enable the West Midlands force to provide a better quality of service.

She said during the first three months of this year the force had already met 92% of its response times within 15 minutes.

"We want to provide a better quality of service and because we have to make cuts it has really made us focus on looking at how we do business.

"My assurance is that if you dial 999 we will be there as quickly and as safely as possible," she said.

The Unison union has criticised the plan to increase response times to the service, saying it was a clear indication the authority could no longer aim for the first-class service staff tried to provide.

The force has previously said it may have to cut up to 2,200 jobs.

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