Tuesday, 6 September 2011

STOP excessive use of emergency sirens!

Sirens make Burdett Road sound like the Bronx, even tho crime is not especially high
Local resident
Yesterday very high pitched emergency sirens were heard - very loud and very long - in and around Mile End on a very regular basis throughout the day and evening.  

By the middle of the evening, some local residents were getting very fed up and began to complain about the sirens.  Above is the comment of just one local resident.

Emergency vehicles at Mile End
on the evening of Saturday 3rd September 2011
Emergency SIRENS all day long on Monday 5th September!

While we are extremely grateful for the support we get from the emergency services who cover the Mile End area, we really do not need to HEAR them all the time to feel supported!  

Instead, what we prefer to SEE are the policemen on the streets and out of  their cars!  MERA wishes to emphasise that we are always very pleased to see the members of our Local Safe Neighbourhood Team around and about our area.

However, here are some facts which are worth noting.....
  • FACT:  What happened on Saturday evening in Mile End Road and Mile End Park - in terms of the attendance of emergency vehicles and the use  of sirens - was exceptional and a complete "one-off".
  • FACT:  This is an area where the ward crime data suggests that Mile End East is actually just above average for crime in London.  
    • However, within the Mile End East ward, the MERA area appears to have a crime rate which is low relative to the rest of the area.  (ie most of the crime is south of Bow Common Lane and east of St Clements)
    • for more facts, see the latest crime data data for the area as reported last week on this blog - Neighbourhood crimes and ASB for Mile End - July 2011
  • FACT:  Although we often hear emergency sirens at least once a day, on an average day we generally hear emergency sirens on a very infrequent basis.  From personal observation (and we have some very good good vantage points) these are mostly ambulances taking people to the London Hospital along Mile End Road.
  • FACT:  Sirens were heard all day long in Mile End on Monday 5th September.  At one point, they were being heard every few minutes.
  • FACT:  Excessive use of sirens scares people!  Given the context of the recent riots and what happened on Saturday evening, the sound from sirens is now particularly anxiety-provoking.   There therefore needs to be a very good reason for a siren to be used.  Their use should also be capable of justification to the local community at all times.  
  • FACT:  Some very poor driving by emergency police vehicles using loud sirens and blue flashing lights was also observed on Monday (and we can quote where and when for those interested).

For the record sirens may only be used by emergency vehicles when...
it is necessary or desirable to do so either to indicate to other road users the urgency of the purposes for which the vehicle is being used, or to warn other road users of the presence of the vehicle on the road

Eventually, MERA rang the Metropolitan Police on the emergency number!  We enquired whether there was an emergency going on in the area which warranted the use of sirens every few minutes.  No reply was received which justified the use of the sirens all day long.  This is by way of contrast to previous such enquiries.  On the rare occasions previously when there has been very excessive noise from helicopters and sirens for part of the day or night, feedback from the Police to enquiries has always been most helpful.

As a result of the complaints, about 9.30pm on Monday evening, MERA sent a note of "negative feedback" to the Metropolitan Police via their Your Voice Counts feedback form.

Below is an extract from what was stated
Today, we have heard emergency sirens being used in Tower Hamlets every few minutes. ......never heard sirens being used (before) as much as they have been today.

In the context of the riots and what happened on Mile End Road on Saturday, this is extremely anxiety-provoking.

We have also seen some very unsafe driving behaviour.

I rang 999 and asked if there was a serious emergency warranting the use of sirens every few minutes. I was not given any reply and was referred to 101 - which had a wait of over 5 minutes for a response.

The point which nobody in the emergency services seems to be appreciating is that you are seriously winding up the anxiety levels of the local population.

If it carries on I shall be asking my MP to ask for a detailed analysis of the use of every single siren and the reason why the use has been so excessive today

The times of all the sirens are now being logged by the Mile End Residents Association

Unless there is a serious emergency of the type experienced on Saturday evening, there is absolutely no rationale for the excessive use of sirens to a much greater extent than usual.

UPDATE: MERA has received this reply today (6th September 2011)
Thank you for your feedback to The Metropolitan Police Service concerning Met vehicle sirens in your area.
Your remarks were reviewed and noted.
Your comments have been passed to the local Borough Command who will contact you directly regarding your email.
We trust that the matter will then be resolved to your satisfaction.
What do you think?

By about 10.10pm, the use of sirens had completely stopped.  Which rather underlines their "misuse" during the rest of the day.

Coincidental?  Draw your own conclusion!

If anybody knows of an emergency which justified the excessive use of sirens all day long and into the evening on Monday do please let us know - as we are still completely in the dark as to what on earth was going on.

Lots of people living in Mile End have lived here for a very long time.  We all know what has previously been assessed as a normal and judicious use of sirens.  Consequently it's very hard for some of us not to draw the conclusion that, following this weekend's events, some emergency drivers were today getting an unnecessary "buzz" from the use of their sirens.  Some were also driving in an unsafe way when this was not justified.


If similar concerns are raised again, MERA and its members will in future 
  • monitor the frequency of the use of sirens in this area.  If this is excessive we will start another log of dates, times and how long - but we'd like to emphasise that we'd much rather not have to do this!
  • make a record of and report incidences of unsafe driving when this is observed.

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