West Midlands Police is urging people to use the 999 service responsibly over the festive period and only use it for real emergencies.
At the time of year, when emergency resources are traditionally stretched, members of the public are reminded to only dial 999 if there is a threat to life or a genuine crime in progress and police attendance is immediately required.
Examples of genuine emergencies include where there is a threat to life, where there is ongoing violence or if offenders are still at or near to the scene or if there has been an injury road traffic collision. Officers say that people found to be making false or malicious 999 calls may face prosecution under misuse of the Telecommunications Act.
Chief Inspector Sally Holmes, Force Contact Manager, said: “We will not prosecute people who genuinely make a mistake by dialling 999, but we do ask members of the public to consider whether their call to police is a real emergency, particularly over the festive period when demand is increased.”
She added: “During past party seasons, we have had examples of people calling 999 because they have been asked to leave a nightclub or can’t find a taxi or they have lost their mobile phone or have been involved in a bump where no-one has been injured- all these calls are not emergencies and are stopping genuine calls for assistance coming through.”
Non-emergency calls and enquiries should be directed to the 101 non-emergency number.
The 101 number, which was launched a year ago, should be used to report a crime or anti-social behaviour which does not need an emergency response. For example, it could be used to report a crime that has already happened, seek crime prevention advice or make police aware of local policing issues.
101 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is a single flat rate charge of 15p no matter how long the duration of the call, what time of day it is or whether you are calling from a landline or mobile phone.
The system works by redirecting people’s calls, wherever they are in the country, to their nearest police force and is intended to be easier for people to remember. Every year West Midlands Police receives more than four million telephone calls, including nearly 700,000 emergency calls, many of which are not genuine emergencies.
CI Holmes, said: “Traditionally Christmas and New Year Eve sees a rise in calls to 999, and people can help by knowing our non-emergency number.”
“Incorrect calls to 999 can cause delays in dealing with genuine emergencies and we are reminding people of the numbers they need to use for all non emergencies.”
To mark the first anniversary of the launch of the 101 number, West Midlands Police has launched a competition encouraging people to take photographs or draw pictures of the number 101 seen during their day and send them into the Force. Photographs and pictures could include house numbers or anything that looks like 101 and there are three age categories for winners, 11 years and under, 12-17 years and 18 plus, with prizes for the best entries.
The winners’ photos will be publishes on the force website and will be used in future marketing materials for 101 across the force.
Entries should be emailed to Birmingham [email protected] or post them to Twitter with the hashtag #wmp101 or post them to the Corporate Communications Department at Lloyd House, Colemore Circus, Queensway, Birmingham, B4 6NQ.
The closing date for the competition is Monday 31 December.