BRIDGWATER'S MP has called on Avon and Somerset Police to improve its response times to grade two ‘priority’ calls, which he has described as “disgraceful”.

Figures show the force takes an average of 13 hours to respond to grade two calls, which are incidents that require an urgent response but pose no imminent risk to life.

Wiltshire has the best response time in the country for grade two calls at 16 minutes. The national average for responding is five hours.

The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information requests that asked police forces for their average response times to ‘emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls. 

Ian Liddell-Grainger said: “Quite simply I want to know why Wiltshire is getting it so right and Avon and Somerset is getting it so wrong.

“If senior force leaders don’t know how improvements might be achieved then they need only visit a neighbouring county to learn how it’s done.

“I’m afraid these figures bear out so many of the complaints I have been getting about the length of time police take to turn up to any incident.

“So many of these have come from rural parts of my constituency. It seems at times that Avon and Somerset is concentrating manpower on town and cities and leaving the countryside to run itself.

“Thirteen hours is a disgraceful response time and hardly does anything to improve the generally low opinion people have about Avon and Somerset Police.

“I should be greatly obliged if the chief constable could find a moment to drop me a line explaining why her officers take 48 times longer to get to an incident than their colleagues across the county line.”

Somerset County Gazette: Avon and Somerset Police are headquartered in Portishead.Avon and Somerset Police are headquartered in Portishead. (Image: n/a)

Avon and Somerset Police says there is no nationally agreed standard to report response timeliness, which means comparison between forces can be “misleading”.

A spokesperson said: “In 2022, our median average response for all calls graded as immediate, where there’s a risk to life, was 11 minutes, with 68 per cent of all immediate calls being attended to within our Service Level Agreement (SLA) time of 15 minutes for an urban location and 20 minutes for a rural location.

“Our most recent PEEL assessment from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), identified that we need to improve our response times, and a significant improvement plan is already in place.

“We’re confident this plan, along with the uplift in officer numbers, means we’re on track to improve our performance in this area.

“We’re committed to providing outstanding policing to all our communities and that includes giving the public the confidence that we’ll be there in an emergency, when they need us the most.

“For calls graded as priority, where there’s an urgent need to respond but no risk to life, our median average response time is less than 50 minutes, with 54 per cent of calls being responded to within the 60-minute timeframe set in our SLA.

“We’re also working hard to reduce the sheer volume of non-emergency demand coming into the police, much of which we know is over-spill demand from other public services.

“For example, in a recent 12-month period we took more than 385,000 calls for services, with under a third of these relating to crime or Anti-Social Behaviour – the rest are issues which go beyond the policing sphere, including incidents involving people in mental health crisis.”