Police have been accused of “moving the goalposts” by increasing the time they have to respond to emergency calls from the public.
The new strategic plan for West Midlands Police has quietly upped the time officers have to answer emergency calls from 10 to 15 minutes. The force has also changed priority response times from 30 minutes to an hour.
Union leaders said the move was “papering over the cracks of police cuts” to civilian workers and gave the public a “second class service”. And they accused the Government of ignoring the dangers of job cuts.
But West Midlands Police said the change, to be introduced on May 1, was simply bringing it into line with national Association of Chief Police Officers’ standards followed by other forces.
The force said officers currently responded to almost 75 per cent of incidents within 10 minutes and it was anticipated it would improve to 90 per cent within 15 minutes.
An immediate or emergency response is considered if there is a crime in progress, an offender poses a risk to the public, there is a danger to life or serious injury or if there is the use or immediate threat of violence.
A priority or early response is considered if there is a genuine concern for somebody’s safety or an offender has been detained but poses no risk to others.
Changes to the routine response is less important as the force moves to an appointment booking system to arrange a time that suits the caller. Trials have proved positive with the public.
Unison’s West Midlands Police Staff Branch’ chairman Rick Gamble said: “The goalposts have been well and truly widened.
“The public will be rightly horrified when they learn about the reality of police staff cuts.
“These cuts really are taking risks with people’s lives and safety.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said: “We are committed to attending emergency incidents as speedily and as safely as possible so we can deliver the level of service our communities expect.
“Our response to emergencies will always be a critical part of our business and it’s vital we continue to respond to calls for help without delay.”