Cats, missing fridges and ‘dangerous’ foxes
Met Police reveals some of the bizarre 999 calls received
“MY mum put a deposit down on a fridge freezer and they haven’t delivered it – they keep changing the delivery date.”
That is just one of the calls received by the Metropolitan Police on its 999 emergency number this year, prompting the force to launch a campaign to crack down on inappropriate calls.
The police force has released 12 examples of calls it received which could have prevented someone in an emergency situation from getting much-needed help.
The campaign was launched on Monday and includes a short sound clip of a fictional emergency situation where a victim is unable to reach police on the 999 number because operators are on the phone line to a non-emergency call.
In the video, the 999 operator is answering a call to someone who is asking for the non-emergency police number, whilst a victim is unable to get through when calling for help whilst a man is breaking into her home.
The campaign has been launched in a bid to reduce the number of inappropriate 999 calls.
Other real-life examples of calls received by the police in 2016 include a man asking for assistance relating to his Apple headphones.
Another caller said: “I have seen a fox walking outside the window and I wanted to report it in case it’s dangerous.”
One person called to report “there was a bird in the store but its okay, someone has removed it.”
And a separate caller phoned 999 to ask: “What time do the betting shops close in N18?”
Officers are urging the public to think before dialling 999. Chief superintendent Pippa Mills, who leads the Met’s command and control unit, said: “Although the majority of people who require police assistance use the numbers correctly, there are still too many calls to emergency lines where the 999 number is being used as an information service.
“In many cases, a simple internet search would provide the answer to the question posed by the caller.”
The campaign has been released for the Christmas and new year period, a time of year when the police 999 number is in high demand.
That seasonal spike, along with an 11.9% increase in emergency calls over the past year, has meant some people are unable to get through for help when they need it.
It is something chief superintendent Mills said could risk the force’s ability to save someone’s life.
“The 999 number really must be reserved for situations where a crime is actually in progress or someone is in danger,” she said.
“Calling us on 101 does not change the police response you would get in a non-emergency situation and using the right number could literally save someone’s life.”
Despite an increase of around 216,000 calls in just one year, call handlers answer 999 calls after around 11 seconds, on average.
In a non-emergency, calls should be made to 101. The example given is if a crime is being reported but the suspects have left the scene, or a situation where a caller wants to speak to an officer regarding an ongoing case.
An online service is available to report crimes relating to theft, damage to property and hate crime, at online.met.police.uk.