Liberal Democrats say police in Sutton are taking longer to respond to 999 calls – but Conservatives have hit back and said this isn’t the case.

Figures have been released by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan which show the Met’s average response times to emergency calls needing “immediate” or “significant” assistance.

In Sutton, average responses to calls needing assistance within an hour was 44 minutes and 23 seconds this June – compared with 38 minutes and seven seconds during January.

The figure dropped by an average of five and a half minutes during February and March before increasing gradually to the latest average.

While Sutton Council’s deputy leader Cllr Jayne McCoy has pointed the finger at the Tories, opposition chief Cllr Tim Crowley blasted the Lib Dems over “sophistry”.

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Cllr Jayne McCoy

Cllr McCoy said: “The Conservative police cuts are having a direct impact on Sutton. Sutton residents are waiting longer to get through to the police, and waiting longer to get police assistance.

“The merger of Sutton’s police with Croydon and Bromley will further worsen response times. These cuts are unacceptable and short-sighted.

“We should be investing more in community policing so Sutton residents can still feel safe in their borough.”

But Cllr Crowley believes the statistics are being warped as the issue “is not as simple” as it’s being made out to be.

He said: “Instead of backing our brilliant police force, they seek to make political capital out of a process that is designed to make the force more efficient and responsive to fighting crime.

“Sutton Lib Dems claim that ‘out of hours’ call waiting times have dramatically increased. This is not the case.

“The figures quoted are not ‘out of hours’ but daily and pan-London, and the Lib Dems have compared the month with the lowest call volume [January 2018] to the month with the highest call volume [July 2018].

“July is also peak holiday season and like most employers the centralised Met Police emergency call service would be short-staffed during this period. In nine out of the previous 12 months, the average call answer time was well under 20 seconds.”

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Cllr Tim Crowley

The Conservative leader pointed to the council’s scrutiny committee meeting held earlier in July this year, which discussed the upcoming merger.

He added that council leader Cllr Ruth Dombey said Sutton’s response times are above 90 percent, sometimes as high as 96 percent, when police arrive within 15 minutes.

Paul Wylie, director of strategy for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), fielded questions over the police merger.

Though there were “teething problems” in the pilot BCU areas around London, he said response times are now “above the previous standards”.

The statistics, requested by London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, also highlight response times for the Met’s “highest priority” call – which needs officers to arrive within 15 minutes.

For Sutton, this fluctuated between January and June – from as low as nine minutes and seven seconds to as high as 10 minutes and 19 seconds.

You can find the statistics by clicking here.