Report of the Operational Response Time Working Group

Operational Response Time Working Group
Heinilä, Mika
Kasi, Katariina
National Police Board publication series
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National Police Board

The National Police Board established an Operational Response Time Working Group on 25 November 2019 and tasked it with finding answers to questions relating to police response times. The appointment and mandate of the working group were based on the 2019 Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government, which calls for specifying maximum response times for the police throughout the country. The working group’s report uses the term ‘operational response time’ in line with the Police Administration’s standard terminology. The Government Programme is also calling for a stronger presence and visibility of the authorities, particularly in areas with a lower level of service.

The working group was instructed to prepare a proposal on how operational response times could be analysed on a national level in the future, what kind of operational response time targets should be set for the police and what kind of resources the attainment of the set goals would require. The working group was also asked to explore other potential ways to improve the police’s operating conditions in view of changes in the external environment.

The police’s operational response time is the interval between a police unit’s accepting an assignment and the unit’s arrival at the scene of the incident, ready for action. One of the starting points for the working group was to identify new, more informative models for analysing police response with a view to ensuring a consistent level of service in areas with similar policing needs and incident numbers. Factors to be taken into account in measuring operational response times and setting targets include, among others, differences between police departments’ jurisdictions, high-risk areas, geography, distances and population density.

The working group’s report explores a number of potential models for analysing operational response times and ends up recommending a model based on a five-tiered risk classification system. The new model would only take into account Category A incidents and determine maximum operational response times for areas based on their risk ratings. The five tiers of risk-rated areas would be large cities, urban local authorities, densely populated local authorities, rural local authorities, and rural local authorities with no more than 50 Category A incidents per year on average during the previous five years.

In the future, operational response time targets would be calculated on the basis of the 80th percentile, i.e. the police would need to respond to 80% of Category A incidents within the maximum operational response time specified for each area based on its risk rating. Chapter 10 of the report contains the working group’s proposal on the maximum operational response times to be specified for the police. Chapter 11 sets out eight recommended actions based on the working group’s findings.

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