What would you do if you were having problems getting served at McDonalds or you had forgotten your laptop password? For some, the answer was to dial the emergency only 999 number and ask for police assistance.
As part of Letters of the Law – West Midlands Police’s ‘behind the badge’ insight into police work and specialist units – police have released these genuine calls to bring home the serious side – that people ringing 999 for inappropriate reasons are potentially putting lives at risk by taking call handlers’ away from genuine emergencies.
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The force contact centre are also launching a 24 hour tweetathon tomorrow (Friday 1) on @wmpolice where they will be tweet some of the real-time calls they receive from 7am tomorrow till 7am on Saturday 2 February.
Chief Inspector Sally Holmes from Force Contact at West Midlands Police, said: “These calls are ridiculous and it doesn’t end just there. We regularly receive calls on the 9s about lost property, people asking for directions and from people who have been denied entry to a nightclub.
“We are launching a 24 hour tweetathon tomorrow to show the array of calls made to the 9s − from serious and life threatening to bizarre.
“Its astonishing listening to them but they hide a serious truth. Each call often takes minutes to deal with as staff have to clarify the situation − it might not sound like much but, if someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency, then a minute is a very long time to wait.
“I cannot stress enough that the 999 number is for emergencies only, for guidance this is defined as: 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. To contact police for any other reason, call 101.”
“Typically West Midlands Police receive over 1500 calls a day to the 999 number and our operatives have to deal with each one accordingly. Demand for our services often increases when we have issues such as recent heavy snow fall to content with.
“As well as the bizarre calls police also receive deliberate hoax calls which take up vital time. The daft calls are bad enough − but for someone to maliciously dial 999 to take up police time, knowing they are making a false report, is unacceptable.”
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