Police failed to attend one in five emergency calls in Northern Ireland last year
The number of emergency calls in which police do not send an officer to the scene has more than doubled over the last five years, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
In the past year officers did not attend the scene of almost 20% of 999 calls, according to information obtained from the PSNI under the Freedom of Information Act.
Statistics show that last year, out of 71,146 serials lodged from 999 calls, the PSNI did not attend the scene of 12,811.
In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the number of calls not attended by police each year was 6%.
That figure rose to 8% in 2013, before rising to 18% last year.
The figures relate to Command and Control data, which means that the calls were deemed serious enough by a call handler to initiate a serial number. Jimmy Spratt MLA, a former police officer and former chairman of the Police Federation, said that the biggest complaint he gets about police is their slow response.
"I'm not shocked at these figures. The biggest complaint that I get is that police are slow at responding, slow at turning up and sometimes they don't turn up at calls," he said.
The DUP man claimed that recently in south Belfast police failed to attend the scene of a 999 call.
"People were at a bakery working during the night and they reported people on the roof of the next business premises stealing lead. They made three 999 calls.
"The business community was appalled at that. People had taken the time to do the right thing and to contact the police to tell them these people were there and then phone back twice to tell them they were still there.
"I spoke to the police and I got a response to say there were more important calls. The public are frustrated with it - it certainly doesn't do the police any good," said Mr Spratt.