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Sussex Police response times jump by almost a third
Police response times in Sussex have increased by almost a third in three years.
Sussex Police saw one of the biggest rises in the country, with response times increasing on average from ten to 13 minutes.
And the Police Federation said it had witnessed emergency calls going unanswered.
The new figures have forced senior police figures to admit multi-million pound savings have affected a force’s ability to respond to emergencies.
In 2010/11 the force responded to 85% of emergency calls within 15 minutes but by the last financial year that dropped to just 73%.
The force’s own target is to answer all calls within 15 minutes.
The number of emergency calls the force receives has increased from 68,418 in 2010/11 to 75,480 in 2012/13 – the equivalent of a call every seven minutes.
Police unions warned that the situation would only get worse with further job losses planned and said that emergency calls were already going unanswered.
Assistant chief constable Robin Merrett said: “This period has seen a 10% increase in the number of calls that needed a grade 1 emergency response at the same time the force is delivering a challenging programme of modernisation and savings.
“We are aiming to put in place changes that will save money without the quality of services suffering.”
'Pay less, get less'
Detective Sergeant Paul Sellings of the Police Federation said: “Since October 2010 Sussex Police has lost 270 officers and we are budgeting to lose another 60 over the next two years.
“The Chief Constable in 2010 said Sussex Police could provide same level of service with 20% less officers but our view has always been if you pay less for something all you will get is less.
“I went out with my colleagues in Brighton last month and grade one emergency calls were going unanswered because there are not enough officers to respond to them.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “The decline in response times to emergency calls is clearly unacceptable.
“My role is to hold the chief constable to account and I will be working with him to address this issue.
“I am also awaiting the publication of an HMIC report into this and other matters and will asking the Chief Constable at our performance and accountability meeting next week how the Force intends to tackle this.”
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