A learner driver was given a lesson in making 999 calls after phoning for “emergency” police assistance…because his driving instructor turned up late!
Police call handlers were left baffled when the man phoned just after 8am on Thursday morning (July 11) to report his instructor had arrived minutes late for their session.
After rowing over her arrival time the drive tutor asked him to get out of the car and put the brakes on his lesson – which prompted the learner to declare it an emergency incident and call for police back-up.
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West Midlands Police has issued an audio recording of the mobile phone call to reinforce the message that dialling 999 should be reserved for genuine emergencies.
In the recording the caller can be heard saying: “I’ve got an emergency…the person who’s supposed to be teaching me came late and now she’s asking me to get out of her car. She’s saying I’m giving her attitude…please come over.
“I need someone to complain to. Who should I complain to?”
The call handler advises him to speak to her employer or the body that regulates driving instructors – and stresses such trivial matters don’t qualify as 999 emergencies.
West Midlands Police Contact Centre Chief Inspector Sally Holmes described such calls as “ridiculous” and deflects police resources and time away from people in genuine need of assistance or those who are reporting serious crimes.
She added: “We regularly receive calls on the 9s about lost property, people asking for directions and revellers who’ve been denied entry to nightclubs. Other recent ‘emergencies’ include a blocked sink plug in a hotel room and someone who’d forgotten their computer password!
“It’s 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 the 999 number is for emergencies only. This is defined as a crime in progress, if 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.”