One in five calls to Northamptonshire Police’s 101 non-emergency number have been going unanswered.
The statistics were revealed through a Freedom of Information enquiry by Adam Simmonds, the Conservative candidate to become Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner.
It is alleged In November 2011, 27,853 non emergency calls were handled of which 4% were abandoned; in September 2012, 19,767 calls were abandoned – 12.9% of the total.
And between October 1 and 22, the total number of non- emergency calls received was 14,061.
The total number of unanswered calls was 1,244 which is equal to 8.1%.
Compared with last November, more than twice as many calls were not answered even though a little over half as many were made.
Mr Simmonds, “A total of 35,500 calls were not answered in the six months between March and August this year.
“That is 184 unanswered calls every day.
“Over a six month period, one missed call for every 19 people in the county.
“On average each month, the number of calls dropped was almost 6,000 per month, equivalant to the population of a town the size of Oundle (5,800) each and every month.
“I am shocked a telephone number set up for the public to report non-emergency yet often serious crime such as anti - social behaviour is not being managed properly.
“The force's service in terms of abandoned non-emergency calls became four times worse comparing November to January with February to April.
“Over the same period the force reduced its call handling workforce by 25%.
“This would not seem to be a coincidence.”
Deirdre Newham, Chair of the Police Authority said: “In order to assist the public debate around non-emergency telephone calls into the Force, I would like to put the following facts into the public arena.
“As part of the journey to improve the service to the public, new systems have been put in place into the Force Control Room that have resulted in significant improvements in performance – for example, yesterday some 600 calls were received through the non-emergency line and only 20 were unanswered.
"With the new systems in place this is now the normal level of performance and in the last 10 days alone, 90% of emergency calls have been answered within 10 seconds without a single call being dropped.
“The Force has recently implemented an automated message system for inbound non-emergency calls; this improves service delivery as it provides callers with several options from which they can select depending upon the nature of their call.
“Callers who use this service and choose not to speak to an operator would still be included as a dropped call – even though the outcome has been the right one for the caller.
“Processes are in place to address patterns of repeat callers and identify vulnerable people. This is hugely valuable work carried out by police staff in the Force Control Room to identify and support repeat victims and people at risk."