A man was found dead at his home almost 17 hours after calling police for help, despite his plea being categorised urgent enough for officers to attend within an hour.

A coroner has raised concerns over police response times, saying “there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken”.

Stevyn Carr did not intend to take his own life at his Gateshead home in November 2021, an inquest concluded.

The 34-year-old called Northumbria Police at 7.22pm on November 15 that year asking for ‘help’ and was told police would attend.

Call handlers categorised his call as Grade 2, meaning officers would normally attend within the hour.

But officers did not go to his home until 12.02pm the next day after his family called police concerned about him that morning.

It was 16 hours and 40 minutes after Stevyn called police that he was found dead by officers who entered his home, although the inquest was unable to conclude if he could have been saved had police attended earlier.

The inquest at South Shields Coroner’s Court last month concluded his death was drug and alcohol related. He died due to his heart not pumping properly because of the toxic effects of alcohol and amphetamines.

Filing a prevention of future deaths report, Assistant Coroner James Thompson said he had heard evidence that a “number of incidents” had faced “significant” delays due to “lack of police resources”, and that this was “commonplace” around the time of Stevyn’s death.

He wrote: “I have asked for evidence to satisfy me that the position in terms of police attendance has improved both within the area Stevyn Carr died, but across the Northumbria Police force area.

“The evidence I have received is difficult to interpret and not comprehensive.

“I am concerned whether the changes to the management of incidents and/or training in relation to the grading of incidents by Northumbria Police has improved since Stevyn Carr’s death, to the extent that the timeliness of police response to requests from the public for assistance is improved and is improving.”

He added: “The evidence I heard at inquest indicated the level of police response should have been classed as a ‘Grade 2 Vulnerable’ to ensure a more timely response.

“No oversight of the incident took place for over nine hours and a comment was made that there were no resources able to attend, but no other options or alternatives were pursued.”

Northumbria Police will now have to respond to the coroner within 56 days explaining what action it has taken, or will take.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the loved ones of Stevyn Carr following his tragic death.

“We acknowledge the comments made by the coroner and will respond to his report within the timeframe set.

“While as a force we continue to see high levels of calls for our service, significant changes have been, and continue to be, made to ensure we are there when the public needs us.

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“This includes within our control rooms, which receive calls from the public, and has resulted in improvements in how we respond.

“Updated training has been provided to call handlers in relation to the grading of incidents and there is increased oversight in relation to calls from those who are vulnerable.

“Furthermore, a national initiative known as ‘Right Care, Right Person’ has recently been implemented, which aims to ensure that the most appropriate agency responds to requests for assistance from members of the public.”