Police under pressure from huge volume of emergency calls

Supt Kerry Cutler from Suffolk police Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Supt Kerry Cutler from Suffolk police Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Police are being left increasingly stretched by a huge volume of incoming calls demanding their immediate attention – leaving less time for routine patrols, a leading officer has said.

Suffolk police face a high volume of calls requiring an immediate or priority response. Picture: RAC

Suffolk police face a high volume of calls requiring an immediate or priority response. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

Over the 12 months prior to December, police in the Ipswich east, west and central safer neighbourhood teams – which includes the town and outer areas such as Kesgrave and Claydon – dealt with 9,000 calls requiring an immediate response and 24,000 which needed a priority response.

In total, that is an average of 90 calls a day or a nearly four an hour – and an average of more than one an hour requiring an immediate response.

Supt Kerry Cutler, commander for the southern area, said each of those calls could then take anywhere between minutes and hours to resolve depending on the circumstances.

“We can turn up and arrest someone and then have to transport them to custody,” she explained.

Supt Kerry Cutler. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Supt Kerry Cutler. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“Then we have to deal with the person in custody.

“We might have to require officers to go out and collect evidence. We could find out that someone has got an illness and we have to take them to hospital, and then sit with them in hospital.

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“There may be a language barrier and we may have to wait for an interpreter to turn up. It’s not as easy as sending a police officer out sometimes.

“There are an incredible amount of calls that come in. There are a huge variety of calls coming in that police are having to manage and respond to on top of everything else.

“I really understand why people would like to see more police officers on every corner but we’re not in a position to be able to do that.”

However Supt Cutler said the force was “exceptionally grateful for the valuable role that the public play in being vigilant and reporting crime or suspicious behaviour”.

She encouraged people to continue reporting crimes but said: “Many of the non-urgent calls made to Suffolk Constabulary could have been resolved via our website, where anyone can search for advice, view our frequently asked questions and easily report minor incidents and crimes online.”

Supt Cutler said decisions to deploy officers are “based on the threat, harm and risk posed to our communities”.

She added: “This assessment is made hour upon hour as our officers and teams work hard to keep the public safe.

“We will always endeavour to respond effectively, prioritising crime in progress or danger to people and we are constantly reviewing resources, conducting targeted patrols, following up on intelligence reports, carrying out arrests as well as conducting various operational initiatives.”

However she said: “999 calls to police, made by people who are witnessing a crime in progress, or are in immediate fear for themselves or another person’s safety, are our most important calls, therefore they will always take priority.

“Policing is more complex than ever and many of the calls to us can now take some time to resolve.”

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