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Jewel heist police 'weren't there'

Published 10/04/2015

A police forensics officer entering the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London
A police forensics officer entering the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London

Scotland Yard has come under fire after it emerged police were told a burglar alarm had gone off at the scene of the Hatton Garden safety deposit raid - but decided it did not require a response.

A security firm contacted the force about an intruder alert shortly after midnight on Good Friday but the call was graded in a way that "meant that no police response was deemed to be required".

It was not until Tuesday morning - more than four days later - that the audacious raid in London's jewellery district was discovered.

It was also revealed tonight that a total of 72 safety deposit boxes were opened. Five were vacant and 11 were due to be "drilled out" due to non payment of fees, meaning detectives are attempting to contact a total of 56 box holders.

Police insisted it was too early to say if the handling of the call about the alarm would have had an impact on the outcome, but the revelations are likely to compound the anger voiced by potential victims.

Michael Miller, from Knightsbridge, who may have lost £50,000 in uninsured jewellery, said : "I am just so shocked and disappointed to hear the police didn't answer that alarm.

"I mean before, we thought maybe the police didn't even know about that but now we know that they knew something was wrong.

"This completely changes things, the knowledge that something could have been done. The police pride themselves on being somewhere in a couple of minutes, but on this occasion they just weren't there."

A store owner near the scene, who did not wish to be named, said: "I t's just shocking that someone didn't answer that call that come in when the alarm went off. You think what on earth isn't a high priority call if it's isn't a safe deposit alarm going off in there.

"I know they're investigating but really what is the good of that when the damage is done. There are people who will have lost their livelihoods because of this."

Details of the alarm emerged as police made inquiries into what calls were received relating to the burglary.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "At this stage we have established that on Friday, 3 April at 00:21hrs a call was received at the MPS Central Communications Command (MetCC) from Southern Monitoring Alarm Company.

"The call stated that a confirmed intruder alarm had been activated at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd.

"The call was recorded and transferred to the police's CAD (computer aided despatch) system. A grade was applied to the call that meant that no police response was deemed to be required.

"We are now investigating why this grade was applied to the call. This investigation is being carried out locally.

"It is too early to say if the handling of the call would have had an impact on the outcome of the incident."

In its first statement on the incident, the Met said police were called at around 8.10 on Tuesday morning to a report of a burglary.

Calls to the central communications command are initially dealt with by a "first contact" operator, who grades all incidents "in terms of their urgency", according to the Met's website.

It says: "Upon receiving a call, information is recorded and passed on to the relevant department, or to a dispatcher for a police deployment if required.

"First contact operators will question the caller and gain all the relevant information necessary to ensure the best police response.

"Having completed this, the operator will grade the call in accordance with standard operating procedures for the type of incident. The grading will depend upon the urgency of the call."

Calls are passed to a despatch operator for deployment if required, the site says.

It adds: "Despatch operators receiving the incidents will assign the appropriate police resources depending upon the type of incident."

Thieves disabled a communal lift shaft and climbed down to the basement before using power tools to break into the vault during the "sophisticated" raid in London's jewellery district.

Once inside, they opened up dozens of safety deposit boxes, leaving chaotic scenes.

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