More than 36,000 calls made to Nottinghamshire Police’s 101 phone line were unanswered or abandoned, figures have revealed.
Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information request submitted by Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero’s office has revealed that in 2016/17, 36,058 calls to the 101 non-emergency phone line were unanswered or abandoned before being answered.
That is up from 11,972 calls in 2015/16 – a massive increase of 201 per cent.
During the same period the total number of calls to 101 did rise, but only by two per cent year on year, to 417,942 calls.
The average waiting time for a call to be answered has also increased significantly.
In 2015/16, the average time for a call to be answered was 22 seconds, but this rose to 43 seconds in 2016/17 – an increase of 95 per cent.
The longest time a caller waited before their call was answered in 2016/17 was an incredible one hour, 46 minutes and 55 seconds.
Gloria has now written to the policing minister, Nick Hurd MP, demanding action to improve the situation and to reassure residents that their calls to the police will be answered.
Gloria said: “The vast majority of people only call the police when they have a genuine need – either when they have been the victims of a crime or have witnessed a crime.
“It is totally unacceptable that so many calls to Nottinghamshire Police’s 101 line are going unanswered.
“Though these calls are not for emergencies, these callers are being let down and the situation needs rectifying immediately before residents lose faith in our police force.
“The Government needs to stop cutting funding to police forces and ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs properly.”
Superintendent Paul Burrows, of Nottinghamshire Police, said the force received around 550 calls a day to the 999 emergency number and between 1,100 to 1,500 a day to the non-emergency 101 number.
He said: “We prioritise 999 calls and seek to answer the non-emergency 101 calls as quickly as we can.
“The problem we have had with answering the 101 is that some people were ringing off after one minute, so they were not giving us sufficient time to answer the phone.
“Recently we put a message on the 101 call handling system which told people that we answer 90 per cent of calls within five minutes and 99 per cent of calls within ten minutes. The result of putting that message on is a significant reduction in abandoned calls.
“We have also gone through a significant recruitment process due to a shortage of staff, as a number of our team have joined the organisation as police officers. At the same time we have seen an uplift in 999 calls and 101 calls throughout the course of the year.
“We are already seeing the benefit of this recruitment in terms of answering more calls from the public.”
A report by the HMICFRS, which was published Thursday, November 9, recognised that the police have a higher demand than the national average, but the force will work hard to prioritise this accordingly to ensure that they are there when the public need them.