Police Forces Taking Days to Respond to 999 Calls … While Hate Crime Declared a Priority

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

As forces in Britain declare tackling so-called hate crime a “priority”, the police watchdog has released a report revealing officers are taking days to respond to emergency calls.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) asserted that “the system is under severe strain and in some forces the cracks are showing” in its annual review of policing in England and Wales, which found that there were “considerable delays” in response to 999 calls for assistance in two forces.

Vulnerable people are being put “at risk” by the lack of timely response from some forces, according to the report, which disclosed that between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of reports requiring police to send a unit within 24 hours missed the target in one region.

Though HMICFRS emphasised most forces were managing to keep the public safe at a time when officers are under “significant stress” from rising crime and reduced budgets, the watchdog noted that “too often”, victims were not getting a prompt response.

With thousands of 999 calls assessed as requiring action within an hour, police took hours, or in some instances several days, to respond.

In the case of Cambridgeshire, inspectors found that officers took 15 hours on average to respond to 999 calls from the public.

HM Inspector Zoe Billingham said: “About a quarter of forces are all too often overwhelmed by the demand they face, resulting in worrying backlogs of emergency jobs.

“We can see people waiting a long, long time for that 999 response and our concern here, in particular, is where there are vulnerable victims in that backlog.”

Other problems highlighted by the review include that, with a large number of crimes being simply “written off”, victims are being denied the service they are entitled to, while police were failing in some cases at basic tasks such as checking CCTV at crime scenes or neglecting to carry out house-to-house inquiries to look for witnesses.

With more than 60,000 “wanted records” on the national police database, including 374 relating to homicide and more than a thousand to rape, forces were found to be failing to track suspects and identify their whereabouts, according to the inspectorate.

There was also concern in the report over forces failing to carry out background checks with national intelligence records when arresting people from abroad.

While HMICFRS pointed to funding having fallen by a fifth since 2010 as a big contributor to the increased stress on police, critics have suggested their reduced resources are not being wisely deployed with forces embarking on high profile campaigns to “raise awareness” of so-called hate crime.

While the number of arrests has seen a dramatic fall in recent years, despite large increases in recorded crime, arrests over “hateful” comments posted online have risen as much as 877 per cent in some parts of England, as the Metropolitan Police boasts of having more than 900 specialist “hate crime” investigators.

With dedicated “hate crime coordinators”, forces across the country have officers touring mosques, colleges, schools, and community centres urging people to report any perceived slights to their “identity” following the government’s 2016 release of an ‘action plan’ in which ‘success’ is defined as maximising the number of ‘hate’ complaints.

Police dedication to driving up the number of so-called hate crime reports is such that three forces in the northwest of England recently held a weeklong campaign out of concern that officers “see a reduction in reports of hate crime at this time of year”.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.