LANCASHIRE’S police and crime commissioner has spoken of his concern that the 101 non emergency call system is ‘overwhelmed’.

Clive Grunshaw believes many callers are regularly unable to get through on the non-urgent line.

Across the country thousands of calls to 101 are thought to be abandoned by callers frustrated at being kept waiting.

Mr Grunshaw also hit out at cuts to the county force, which he said means officers can now attend fewer calls.

He said officers are now spending just 20 per cent of their time dealing with crime.

Mr Grunshaw said: “Part of the reason is the possibly unintended consequences of austerity, cuts to mental health services, cuts to the local authority’s budget including adult social care, children’s social care, and the supporting people budget.

“The 101 system is being overwhelmed so people are not being able to get through when they need genuine support.”

Mr Grunshaw’s comments echoes the parting shot of Steve Finnigan, the former chief constable, who retired at the end of June.

In a hard-hitting interview to mark his departure, Mr Finnigan said the force has lost 800 officers and 400 other staff in the last seven years of his 12-year tenure and admitted people are now not as safe as they used to be.

He said he believes policing is ‘at a tipping point’ because of the amount of money and people taken out of the service.

Mr Finnigan said: “I have always been pretty consistent about my views on the cuts and the scale and the pace of them have been too deep and too quick.

“I am saying now that the cracks are appearing.

“I think now we are at a tipping point and there needs to be an authentic conversation about where we go now in terms of policing.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Crimes traditionally measured by the independent Crime Survey have fallen by well over a third since 2010.

“However, we are sensitive to the pressures the police are under.

“That is why ministers have begun a programme of engagement with forces to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed.”