New data shows ‘significant’ 999 calls are not being responded to within one hour

The Met police are regularly not responding to 999 calls that are categorised as ‘significant’ in more than two thirds of London boroughs, new figures reveal.

The most recent figures that the Mayor was forced to publish, following questioning by the Liberal Democrat Londonwide Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, reveal that in 21 of the 32 London boroughs the police failed to respond to 999 calls categorised as ‘significant’ within the one hour time limit.

999 calls to the police are categorised as S (Significant) on grounds including genuine concern for somebody’s safety, a potential hate crime, an incident involving a road collision or an incident where a witness or likely evidence is likely to be lost.

S graded calls necessitate a police officer at the scene within 0 to 60 minutes.

In some London boroughs the average response time over a six-month period was far in excess of the 60-minute target. The worst performing London borough was Barking and Dagenham, where the average response time was 1 hour 52 minutes and 10 seconds. Newham also far exceeded the target, with an average response time of 1 hour, 46 minutes and 32 seconds. Other London boroughs with long waiting times included Merton, with an average response time of 1 hour, 43 minutes and 7 seconds, Bexley with an average of 1 hour, 37 minutes and 33 seconds and Wandsworth with an average of 1 hour, 28 minutes 45 seconds.

Commenting on these figures, Caroline said:

“Calling the police after a hate crime, or after a road collision and then having to wait so long for the police to arrive is not acceptable. In many cases there is also a real risk that valuable evidence or witnesses are lost if the police fail to respond to incidents within an hour. Long response times create the risk of crimes not being properly investigated.

“While of course 999 calls relating to immediate risk of life should be prioritised it should also be possible for calls categorised as significant to receive a response with an hour.

“Responding to 999 calls in a reasonable time period is vital for public safety. These targets for response times should be met in every part of London.”