If there were sheep in your garden, is the emergency 999 number the one you would call?
Unbelievably, this did happen and was a genuine call from a man requesting police as there were sheep in his garden and he believed they were going to eat his children.
We receive numerous bizarre and inappropriate calls to our 999 and 101 lines, including a call about how to pay council tax, one from a woman concerned as her washing machine wouldn’t stop spinning, a caller wanting us to investigate the owners of a cat and a call about a rat running round in a house! Extracts of some of these calls can be listened to here:
These calls not only increase demand in the Force Control Room (FCR), but for someone who is in a dangerous situation and in desperate need of our service, it could potentially cost them their life.
FCR Superintendent Tracy Bradley said: “When the days get longer and the weather warms up we do tend to see an increase in calls for our service and we need people to please, make the right call.
“We prepare for this each year, having extra staff on shift to answer calls, having our breaks at times when we were know there are less calls and limiting the number of people that can take time off across the busy summer period.
“However inappropriate calls to our 999 and 101 lines can have a major impact, causing delays in getting through for people that genuinely need our assistance and the 999 service.
“At best, that means people calling 101 have to wait longer before we can deal with their call. At worst, it could be the difference between life and death.
“I want to be clear, if you call 999 inappropriately we will hang up as soon as we have established that you’re not calling about a genuine emergency. I make no apology for that.
“We will not risk delaying someone whose life is in danger getting through to us because someone has called 999 to report their washing machine is faulty.
“Not all the inappropriate calls we receive are done maliciously – some come from vulnerable people and where that’s the case our teams do everything they can to ensure that the caller is safe and has the right advice and support.
“However, many are from people that don’t understand that 999 is for emergencies only and that there are other ways to find out advice and information or get in touch with us.
“The below graphic gives some information about when to call 999 and when 101 or another service would be more appropriate. Please share it with your friends and family or even print off a copy to have handily available should you ever need anything from us.”