Thousands of emergency phone calls to Thames Valley Police are being abandoned every single year, according to new figures.

A call is registered as abandoned if it rings for 10 seconds or longer, and the caller then terminates the call.

The numbers obtained from a freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats show that over 4,000 calls have been abandoned by people in emergency situations in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, 2,000 higher than in 2013.

This rise comes despite TVP receiving more calls in 2013 than in any of the following years.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats was critical of the numbers.

He said: “When someone calls 999 they want to talk to the police because it’s an emergency. They don’t want to be left on hold. It’s unacceptable.

“But 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.

“Thousands of calls are going unanswered and thousands of crimes are going unreported.”

Thames Valley Police responded to the figures.

A spokesperson said: “Thames Valley Police aims to answer all 999 calls within 10 seconds.

“It is important to stress that the details of these calls are not lost, and that our call handlers then ring the caller straight back.

“It is also important to note that there are a number of 999 calls made in error or with good intent, but which are then found to be unnecessary.

“There are also occasions where members of the public will come across an incident and several people will all call the emergency services at the same time.

“Thames Valley Police call handlers also have to deal with several hundred nuisance calls a year. The Force will then look to prosecute people who deliberately make nuisance calls.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Nobody in need of urgent help should have their emergency calls unanswered.

“While answering 999 calls is an operational matter for the police, we have maintained protection for police spending so forces have the resources they need to carry out their important work.”

‘It’s unacceptable’