An investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of 43 police forces in England and Wales has revealed that many of these forces are overstretched and overwhelmed.
Several instances of emergency calls – which should be dealt with within an hour – being left unattended for several hours or even days were discovered.
"About a quarter of forces are all too often overwhelmed by the demand they face, resulting in worrying backlogs of emergency jobs. We can see people waiting a long, long time for that 999 response and our concern here, in particular, is where there are vulnerable victims in that backlog,” HM Inspector Zoe Billingham said.
"We are concerned by this finding, because it shows that the system is under severe strain and in some forces the cracks are showing," the watchdog warned.
HMIC said "life and limb" and "crime in action" cases were being prioritized and are dealt with quickly in most cases. The investigators also said that most forces are doing a good job despite budget cuts by the Tory government and a “dramatic increase” in demand.
Austerity and cost-saving measures implemented by the British government have also affected the National Health Service (NHS), which is struggling to cope with an ageing population and growing demand.