Police in Kent are getting slower at responding to the most serious emergencies, with waiting times rising by a third in three years.
Officers took an average of 12-and-a-half minutes to arrive at “grade 1” incidents last year – the most urgent – compared to eight-and-half minutes three years ago.
The slower response has been attributed to a rise in demand – especially after the introduction of the 101 number for non-emergencies – coupled with cuts in police resources.
Police are taking longer to respond to emergencies
The figures were released following a freedom of information request submitted by the Labour Party, and relate to incidents that occur between 11pm and 6am.
Of the 20 forces in England and Wales that responded, Kent was the fourth worst area with a 33% increase in average waiting times between 2011 and 2014.
Only Essex, Devon and Cornwall and Bedfordshire police forces fared worse.
Kent Police says the introduction of the 101 number has made it easier for people to contact the police, meaning demand has shot up.
A spokesman said: “In spite of the well-documented reduction in police resources, demand has continued to rise significantly.
“In addition, like many other forces, Kent Police has moved away from targets for attendance times, to a quality of service delivery to ensure the most appropriate patrol is sent to calls.
The force insists every call is important and that call handlers are trained to send the most appropriate patrol to incidents, which can mean “a slightly longer” attendance time.
The spokesman added: “Our aim is to get to those priority calls as quickly and safely as possible, to protect the public, to reduce and prevent crime and to bring offenders to justice.
“Kent Police will continue to look at ways to manage the resources it has at its disposal in the face of increasing demand.”
Stories you might have missed