People in Milton Keynes who call police on 101 have been forced to wait up to EIGHT minutes on average for their call to be answered, it has been revealed.
Chief Constable John Campbell admitted the force has “struggled” to cope with the 101 calls during busy times.
He said the eight minute average applied to last year, particularly during the summer, and the response time has now improved.
Mr Campbell blamed the problem partly on “recruitment issues” at the force's two calls centres, one of which is in Milton Keynes and the other in Abingdon.
And some of these problems are due to the low wages paid by Thames Valley Police.
“We're not great payers. There are lots of call centres offering more money,” said the chief constable.
Thames Valley Police force receives 1.3 million calls a year on the 101 number, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mr Campbell said the average response time is currently three minutes but he would like to see it cut to two minutes.
The easily remembered 101 number is designed to reduce pressure on the 999 system and allow the police to prioritise emergency calls.
It should be used for non-emergency crimes such as car theft, accidents, and criminal damage, or to report information such as suspected drug dealing or criminal activity.
The number is also widely used for witness appeals, when police are seeking vital information from the public about matters as serious as the disappearance of Milton Keynes girl Leah Croucher.
Police say the 999 number should be used only in an emergency, such as when a crime is in progress, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened.
Thames Valley Police receives 300,000 calls to 999 each year.