Rise in non-urgent 999 calls to the police

Police say non-urgent 999 calls are ‘putting lives at risk’.

‘Think first before dialling 999’ - that is the message from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary after it experienced a rise in the number of calls reporting non-urgent matters on the emergency number.

In the last month 999 calls to the police have increased by 40 per cent at peak times.

A statement from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “This is putting the lives of people who need immediate assistance in a real emergency at risk.

“Inappropriate calls that have been clogging up the emergency phone lines range from problems with utilities to complaints about noise and often callers are knowingly using the line inappropriately.”

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The majority of these calls are non urgent or in some cases callers are reporting matters that are not dealt with by the police which often relate to noise complaints which are dealt with by the council.

One such call was from a woman who asked if officers could come to her house and test her plug sockets to make sure they were working correctly.

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A man also called 999 to report his annoyance at his neighbour playing his radio loudly.

Another woman called to report she had left her handbag in a taxi and wanted police to follow the vehicle while another caller said she was standing outside Specsavers and could not find her glasses.

Police say they receive calls saying “Well, it’s not really an emergency, but I didn’t know the right number to call” as well as requests from callers asking for lifts home or taxi firm numbers particular on Friday and Saturday nights.

Superintendent Craig Downham, the head of call management and communications at Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “There has been a marked increase in people calling 999 for non-emergencies.

“The 999 number should only be used for situations where life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby or if immediate action is required with an urgent response. 999 should only be used in an emergency.”

For non-urgent inquiries members of the public are urged to call 101. The number is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

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