Would you know who to call? – Police urge residents to think before they dial
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Who would you call if you needed a morning wake up call for your court appearance? Or if you saw a deer outside your house?
For some residents of Hampshire and the Isle Wight the answer was to call police using the 999 emergency number.
Our call handlers receive hundreds of calls each shift; the majority of which are genuine emergencies. However, there are also calls made in error or for reasons that do not count as an emergency.
Having to deal with these sorts of callers can seriously impact the handers’ ability to speak to people who genuinely need help.
Officers took a look at a ten hour period on a Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning to show the extent of the issue.
Between 5pm on the Saturday and 4am on the Sunday, handlers answered 714 calls via the 999 emergency number.
Of these calls, only 49%, 349, were genuine emergencies.
The remaining 51% were either made in error (44 calls), confirmed as not being a new incident, for example a general enquiry or an update to an existing report (171 calls), or were not emergencies and should have been reported online or via 101 (150 calls).
Superintendent Anna Skelton, said: “By calling 999 about matters other than emergencies, these people are diverting call handlers away from those who really need help.
“It is always important that people think before they dial and only use 999 in an emergency. However, it is even more important during busy times, such as during the summer, to ensure our lines of contact are used correctly so we can be available to answer 999 calls from people who really need our help.
“The number of calls coming in to the police and other agencies tend to increase over the summer months. Last summer we saw an unprecedented demand on our services at a national level and the reasons for this are really complex. But undoubtedly the fact that there are longer days, warmer weather and tourism coming into Hampshire and the Isle of Wight all play a big part.
“The majority of calls we receive via 999 are genuine emergencies. However, in some instances people find themselves in a situation and don’t know who to call so just call us on 999 hoping to be pointed in the right direction, or genuinely thinking this is the correct number. On other occasions, we have people deliberately wasting our time.
“Help us keep 999 lines clear for your emergencies. Only call 999 if there is a danger to life, a crime is happening at that time, or has just happened, you have immediate concerns for safety or you see something suspicious that needs immediate attention.
“In all other situations there are other ways to contact us either online, via 101 or report at one of our stations (station opening hours can be found on our website).”