Nearly two million calls to Police Scotland’s non-emergency number since 2018 have been ended before being answered, new figures suggest.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request indicates that just over 1.8 million calls since that time to the 101 number were discontinued having gone unanswered for two minutes.
The figure has risen with the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of discontinued 101 calls increasing from 284,239 in 2019 to a total of 590,279 in 2020.
The FOI was submitted to Police Scotland by the Scottish Conservatives.
A Police Scotland performance report previously outlined an increased time taken on average to answer a 101 call by 16.2% – rising from 2 minutes 44 seconds, to 3 minutes 54 seconds.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene described the situation as “completely unacceptable and unsustainable” as his party called for greater police funding.
“These figures are absolutely staggering,” said Greene, an MSP for the West Scotland region.
“Our officers are doing their best under severe pressure, but they are simply not being given the resources they need by the SNP Government.
“This situation is completely unacceptable and unsustainable going forward. We cannot have this huge volume of calls from members of the public going unanswered when they could be alerting police to serious incidents.
“We have seen tragedies occur before in Scotland when calls have been missed.
“These figures must be a wake-up call for SNP Ministers to guarantee officers can answers calls as promptly as possible. If not, this could again have devastating consequences.”
The Scottish Conservative MSP added: “These statistics are a damning indictment of the SNP’s failures to fund our police.
“Ministers must urgently reverse their plans to hit police with yet another cut in this year’s budget and support Scottish Conservative calls for a significant increase in their capital funding.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Delivery of the police 101 and 999 service and the deployment of resources are operational matters for the Chief Constable, with oversight provided by the Scottish Police Authority.
“As Police Scotland have made clear they have taken all necessary steps to protect the critical emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 services throughout the pandemic.
“The total budget for policing in 2022-23 is almost £1.4bn, including an additional £40.5m increase in resource funding and a further £6.6m to mitigate the impact of Covid on the policing budget.
“And despite cuts to the Scottish Government’s capital budget we have more than doubled the police capital budget since 2017-18, supporting continued investment in police assets including the estate, vehicle fleet, specialist equipment and ICT to ensure officers have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.
“We also welcome Police Scotland’s plans to introduce a new digital contact platform which will help strengthen their 999 and 101 services.”