Friday, 12 March 2010

Emergency Police Vehicle Sirens

Caroline Pidgeon, MPA Link
Valerie Shawcross, LA
Kate Hoey MP

cc:  Cllrs Princes, Oval, Bishops, Newington Wards

Dear Caroline, Val, Kate and Cllrs

Please find below a copy of our letter to the Metropolitan Police
regarding excessive noise from police vehicle sirens in Kennington.
We would welcome your support.

Best wishes
Cathy Preece
KA Administrative Assistant

Thursday, 11th March 2010
Commander David Zinzan
South Central Area Commander
Metropolitan Police Service
Room 1.14, Territorial Policing HQ
Victoria Embankment
London SW1A 2JL
Dear Commander Zinzan
The Kennington Association is saddened to have to write, once again, to the Metropolitan Police Service regarding the excess siren noise that is generated from police vehicles in and around Kennington, South London. 
We understand that Kennington is on several trunk routes, and that we are bounded by three police stations in the area (Kennington Road, Walworth Road and Brixton), but we consider that more could be done to reduce the noise pollution from emergency vehicles.  After we wrote to Chief Superintendent Richard Quinn in January 2004, we were pleased that the use of sirens appeared reduced for a short period; however, the noise now seems to have returned to its previous levels.
We are particularly concerned by the use of sirens at night.  Whilst we appreciate that Kennington and the surrounding areas are often quite busy, and you wish to avoid pedestrian/vehicle accidents, we do not consider that the current excessive siren use at night can be justified.  Excess noise has been shown to be detrimental to the health and well being of the general population.  Indeed, “there is sufficient scientific evidence that noise exposure can induce hearing impairment, hypertension and ischemic heart disease, annoyance, sleep disturbance and decreased school performance”[1].
The Kennington Association would like to make a plea that, if possible, all new police vehicles be fitted with directional sirens.  The London Health Commission noted in their 2002 document Health impact assessment – draft Ambient Noise Strategy[2], “The ambulance service, along with police and fire agencies, should be encouraged to draw on the latest research in order to review their choice and use of sirens.  Additionally, directional sirens are said to make police journeys up to 10% faster and also safer due to fewer lane changes and fewer forced stops.[3]  Embracing this new technology might increase vehicle and passenger safety as well as reducing noise.
Would you be able to advise on how Lambeth / Southwark Metropolitan Police Services are drawing on the latest research re. reviewing choice and use of sirens?  A number of our members report that the Metropolitan Police Service in Kensington and Chelsea do not use sirens at night time at all, but we are unable to confirm this information.  Could you inform us whether there is a consistent police policy for siren use within all inner London boroughs?
Yours sincerely
Kennington Association
cc: Assistant Commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick, Central Operation HQ, TPHQ Senior Management, Room 1001, New Scotland Yard, 10 Broadway, London SW1H 0BG
cc: Borough Commander Nick Ephgrave, London Borough of Lambeth, Brixton Police Station, 3rd Floor, 367 Brixton Road, London SW9 7DD

[1] Passchier-Vermeer W. & Passchier W. F. “Noise Exposure and Public health”  Accessed 10/3/2010:
[2] London Health Observatory, “Health Impact Assessment – Draft Ambient Noise Strategy” Accessed 10/3/2010:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This seems to be getting progressively worse. I agree that the ambulance service is the main culprit. I live on the Camberwell New Road and have had my sleep disturbed many nights. The roads are empty at night so why it is necessary to use them at that volume puzzles me. There are some areas north of the river which ban the use of sirens at night because of the amount of disturbance they have created. Why can't we have the same down south? Who do we complain to about this?