Police emergency response times in Horsham district improve

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The time it takes for police to respond to the most serious emergency incidents in the Horsham district has improved, says the neighbourhood policing superintendent for West Sussex.

Lawrence Hobbs told the County Times Sussex Police has launched a review which could lead to a change in the way emergency response officers are deployed.

It comes after a report by HMIC in July last year which revealed the force was failing to meet its response target for the most serious incidents.

In Sussex officers aim to attend 80 per cent of incidents categorised as grade one within 15 minutes.

These are reports of a serious ongoing crime.

Grade two incidents are described as crimes which have just happened and the offenders have not long left the area.

Officers aim to reach these within one hour 80 per cent of the time.

Supt Hobbs said Sussex Police was not meeting these targets because of unreliable technology and officers’ attitude towards grade two calls.

He explained: “Part of the reason is technology would not always automatically update when we arrived at the scene.

“Also, with grade two calls we were sinking into a culture of ‘I will just finish what I’m doing then I’ll go’. That’s not what we need. We need officers to recognise these as a priority as well.”

To combat this the force has been reviewing its emergency response model.

Analysts have been plotting the number of grade one and two calls in the county over the past six months.

Research has revealed the Crawley and Worthing and Adur areas to be the two hotspots of demand, said Supt Hobbs.

Analysis has also shown the peak times throughout the day serious incidents are likely to occur.

Sussex Police will use this data to evenly distribute emergency response officers around the county.

This could see officers from neighbouring districts respond to crime in Horsham and vise-versa.

Changes have already been tested and over the past few weeks Horsham has been hitting its target to meet grade one incidents.

Supt Hobbs stressed that a change in the model is not a cost-cutting measure and the number of officers will not be reduced in the process.

He said the new model is proving positive which is encouraging at a time when Sussex Police is facing financial pressure.

He continued: “As we roll out some of these changes police officers are already going through a lot of changes in terms of how we go about business. This is part of our drive to improve the police service and meet the demands of the financial reduction.”

The Supt also dispelled rumours about the closure of Horsham Police Station later this year.

In June last year Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne outlined money saving plans to close Horsham, Pulborough and Steyning police stations and replace them with community hubs scattered across towns and villages.

Supt Hobbs said the force is working with Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council on future options to relocate to another partner building within the Horsham.

But this forms part of a long term strategy and will not be realised for four to five years.