Thousands of 999 calls to Suffolk police abandoned as victims wait for answers
- Credit: PA
People seeking emergency help abandon more 999 calls to police in Suffolk than anywhere else in the country, according to figures.
Suffolk Constabulary said 38,219 calls were abandoned before being answered by them in 2016 – an average of more than 100 a day.
It was the highest figure of all 28 forces to provide figures in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats.
The force said it was now looking into why the numbers were so high.
The figure, which has nearly trebled in four years, has raised concerns that people could be left without vital emergency help during times of crisis, while thousands of crimes may be going unreported.
Mark Trask, secretary of Suffolk police Unison, said the closure of all but three police stations in the county to the public, as well as other service cuts had seen demand on the control room go 'through the roof'.
'The closures have left people with no other alternative but to call the control room,' he added.
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According to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, who submitted requests to every UK police force, the number of abandoned 999 calls nationally has more than trebled over four years.
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: 'This investigation shows that people are being left hanging on the phone or putting the phone down because they can't get someone to pick up.'
In Suffolk, the force's response to non-emergency 101 calls had already been a concern after a report last year showed barely half of calls were answered within 20 seconds.
The force recently launched its Make the Right Call campaign, urging people not to use 999 improperly.
A spokesman for the Constabulary said: 'There are many reasons why a call could be abandoned – the person dialling may be aware that someone else has already called 999 for example.
'Police often receive multiple calls for incidents in public places – for example a road traffic collision on the A14 - and emergency services are often very quickly on the scene.
'Even things such as misdials could be included in these figures.'
Norfolk Constabulary said it did not record figures for abandoned 999 calls.