One in seven calls to the police non-emergency number 101 goes unanswered in Lancashire, according to shock new figures.
And today the county’s constabulary apologised for being rated the worst in Britain over the four years since the help lines were introduced.
We apologise to anyone who has used the 101 service and feels they have not received the level of service they expect
According to a Freedom of Information request, almost 500,000 of Lancashire’s 3.5m calls to 101 terminated before they were picked up.
In some cases, callers were left hanging on for up to two hours before they received a response – or got fed up and hung up.
“We apologise to anyone who has used the 101 service and feels they have not received the level of service they expect,” said a spokesman at the force’s headquarters in Hutton.
“Over the last four years Lancashire Constabulary received more than three and a half million non-emergency calls with an average wait of just over 30 seconds for the call to be answered.
“Each of our calls is answered by a customer contact advisor who can try to address the caller’s issue in person, rather than relying on an automated service as many other forces do.
“Having said that, we recognise that there have been some historic issues moving from six contact centres to one and we are continuing to iron out these issues.
“We know there is more we can do to improve and we will work to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver the best quality of service we can to the public of Lancashire.”
Nationally more than three million calls to 101 lines have gone unanswered since the service was brought in during 2011/12.
While Lancashire’s 486,284 unanswered calls were the worst of 36 forces over the four-year period, Nottinghamshire Police had just four.
The 101 number was brought in for people to report crimes which don’t need an emergency response.