A senior police officer has revealed the North Yorkshire force is examining re-introducing officers to more rural areas of the county, saying residents living across England’s largest county should be able to expect equal response times to emergencies.
Chief superintendent Catherine Clarke told a North Yorkshire Council meeting staff were examining a vast bank of data as part of an ongoing project to understand the force’s response times to different types of incidents.
She said it had been “identified that there are some areas around North Yorkshire that don’t receive exactly the same response times”.
The apparent policy change follows community leaders in rural areas and some market towns expressing frustration about the lack of officers available in their areas to respond to emergencies or rapidly-developing situations.
Critcism of increasingly centralised police services has included claims that the lack of officers in some parts of the county is exacerbated by officers having to travel long distances to custody suites in places such as Harrogate and York when they arrest someone.
Last year the force stated its response times for “immediate” grade incidents averaged 12 minutes exactly in rural locations and eight minutes, six seconds in urban areas, from the point an officer is dispatched to arriving at the incident, with a “lead in time” of six minutes 56 seconds from call to dispatch.
Earlier this year, government inspectors said the force needed to urgently improve the effectiveness of its response to emergency and priority calls.
Last month, statistics revealed North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was slower to respond to incidents than any other service in England last year.
Cliffe and North Duffield division councillor Karl Arthur and Helmsley and Sinnington councillor George Jabbour both said residents raised concerns over “a lack of visible policing”.
The meeting heard in the Ryedale area officers operated out of a base in Malton and a new base was set to be secured in Ryedale, in addition to Malton, to “reach those hard to get to communities”. However, the location of the new hub has not yet been disclosed.
Coun Jabbour asked whether there were other areas of the county which had experienced the same degree of struggle getting police officers to reach them in emergencies.
Heralding the force for being “proactive”, he asked whether the Ryedale scheme would be replicated in other rural areas.
Chf Supt Clarke replied: “A lot of work is now underway, in terms of new hubs, moving staff, so we can better respond.”
“I’ve taken over local policing and am very interested in understanding equity of response across the force. Understanding some of the geographical challenges that are the beautiful county of North Yorkshire, but that we should be responding as equally as we can across the county.”