Daily Express: 999 alert? Police will be with you in three hours

Wednesday, 16 July, 2008

CRIME victims face a three-day wait to see a police officer under draft Government targets, the Daily Express can reveal.

Even callers dialling 999 may not see an officer for three hours in response times to be unveiled tomorrow by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Draft documents leaked to the Daily Express reveal remarkably lax timescales within which the police are expected to attend incidents or crime scenes.

The standards will be contained in the long-anticipated Policing Reform Green paper published tomorrow.

Home Office sources insisted they did not recognise the targets- suggesting they will be dropped before final publication. But the leaked details sparked new anger over police performance.

Lyn Costello, of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: "At a time when we are trying to restore public confidence in the Government and police, it is senseless to set targets like this. If I am being attacked by someone I want the police there immediately, not in three hours." Extracts from the document said the police service will "aim to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds and non-emergency calls within 30 seconds and tell you how your call will be handled".

On response times, police will "respond appropriately to incidents, giving you a timescale within which those best placed to deal with the issue will attend- within three hours if it requires policing intervention or three days if there is less immediate need for a police presence." The Conservatives last night said the leaked draft was just a rehash of old ideas or promises that cannot be achieved.

Shadow Police Reform Minister David Ruffley said: "Jacqui Smith's policy pledge is a rehash of old Home Office announcements. Many of them are either statements of the obvious or are already implemented by police forces. Jacqui Smith's shameless recycling proves again that Gordon Brown's Government is completely out of ideas." It is thought that such delays will cause anxiety and frustration among the public who want police quickly on scene.

The Green Paper will be based on the conclusions of Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

In February, the Daily Express told how his study had found police "criminalising" children who build snowmen near roads or chalk on pavements to hit targets.

It also sparked fears that thousands of officers will go as civilians take on more duties.