Concerns over failure of Met Police to respond fast enough to 999 calls

Conservatives from three inner London boroughs today demanded action from the Mayor over the failure of the Metropolitan Police to respond fast enough to urgent calls in the areas where the service is trying out new policing plans for the capital.

Representatives of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea are worried at the shortfall in response times in boroughs where the new "Borough Command Units" are being piloted.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, admitted this week that a recovery plan was necessary in Camden, Islington, Barking, Redbridge and Havering after the new structure meant the most urgent 999 calls took nearly 40 minutes on average to answer, compared to a target of 15 minutes. While the east London geography created particular challenges, the failures in two much smaller central boroughs are troubling for all those residents who are entitled to expect a prompt response in an emergency.

The councillors with responsibilities for public protection in Westminster and RBKC, Antonia Cox and Mary Weale, and shadow public protection lead Charlie Dewhirst, demanded disclosure of the figures for the next most serious sets of calls, so called "S" calls, which should be answered within 60 minutes but in some cases were handed over to the next shift in the trial areas.

The Deputy Mayor has been given a deadline of 5 working days to respond.

Tony Devenish, London Assembly Member for West Central, said: "The public deserves to know what is happening to 999 responses. The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is planning a big shake-up of policing and so far the signs are not looking good. The Mayor and MOPAC have to do better to deliver a proper response in emergencies. If we don't get these figures in five days we can only assume there is something to hide. In addition, the Mayor ignored cross-party calls at the last Mayor's Question Time to extend the consultation timetable for police station closures. In both Westminster & RBKC, residents were given only a few days' notice of public meetings and those who attended felt the entire process was a sham. Information was limited & promised clarifications have not materialised.”