Cats, miss­ing fridges and ‘dan­ger­ous’ foxes

Met Police re­veals some of the bizarre 999 calls re­ceived

Uxbridge Gazette - - NEWS - By Lois Swin­ner­ton lois.swin­ner­ton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

“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.

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