Devon and Cornwall says that it is doing "everything possible to meet the challenges of responding to immediate and emergency calls", after figures show average response times between 2011 and 2013 increased from six to nine minutes. 

The force is claiming local media have "published misleading reports suggesting the force is not responding to incidents quickly enough".

The force doe not dispute these figures, which come from a "Freedom Of Information Act disclosure to a political party", however adds that the median average for response times in 2012-13 is between six and seven minutes.

Adding the median average takes into account that a small number of incidents can artificially skew figures, so gives a "much more representative reflection" of how the force is responding.

Assistant Chief constable Paul Netherton said: “There is no doubt that responding to incidents with less police officers and staff is a challenge. There is also a trend nationally showing a small rise in response times.

“However, the figures and tone of some media reports are not a fair or accurate reflection of the fantastic efforts police officers and staff make to respond to calls for help in what is one of the largest geographic police forces in the country.

“If anyone calls 999 or 101 we will do everything possible to grade their call appropriately and then give the right response in the right timescales.

ACC Netherton added: “We receive more than one million contacts from the public every year through our contact centres, and face very stiff targets as to how quickly we must answer a call and then respond to it.

“The communities of Devon and Cornwall should be reassured that in the vast majority of cases we meet these targets and get the right resources dispatched to deal with an incident.”