News : Police Reveal Weird and Wacky Calls Made to Command Centre
Humberside, UK, June 26, 2015 -- At Humberside Police, more than one in four calls received on the 999 system are inappropriate – either because they simply are not emergencies requiring immediate police assistance or they are not police matters at all.
People often opt for 999 because they have no credit left on their phones or because they wrongly assume they will get dealt with more speedily if they ring 999 rather than 101
Now, call takers are taking a stand and rather than simply sending a police officer to every incident, they will re-direct people to the most appropriate route.
The force has launched a campaign encouraging people to "click before you call", by visiting the force's website if they are not in need of immediate emergency assistance.
Chief Inspector Mark Bishop said: "I want to make it clear, this message is not about telling the public they should not ring us, it is informing them that there is another way they can get in touch with us that may be more appropriate."
In recent weeks operators have received calls from a woman complaining about her new haircut, a pub customer reporting a rude barmaid, and a woman ringing to ask if officers could remove a big spider from her house.
With the force having to save £31m in the next four years as part of government austerity measures, Chief Insp Bishop says it is now more important than ever that people do not waste police time.
He added: "We are clearly operating in an environment with sinking resources and that applies equally to resources outside uniformed staff, for example non-police staff who take the majority of calls in our patrol room.
"It is really important we allow these staff to focus on genuine victims.
"If people are ringing us about matters that do not involve the police and we are on the phone for five, ten, 15, or even 20 minutes in one extreme case, we cannot immediately deal with someone who really needs our help."
The police website has had a complete overhaul, in what the force says is the first stage in plans to develop a "community alert system" for reporting crime and tracking its progress.
It has links to community officers, their Facebook and Twitter accounts and information on different services and advice.
The public can report "low-level" crimes online and complaints can also be submitted.
Chief Insp Bishop also revealed people are having to wait longer than they should when they call 101, due to people calling to report non-police matters.
He said: "People are having to wait longer than they should, but we do answer these calls within quite a reasonable time."
The force has seven dedicated 999 operators and up to 30 call handlers.
The busiest call periods are in the late afternoon going in to the evening and on a weekend.
Chief Insp Bishop said: "We only have so many people to take calls and if we can encourage members of the public to use alternative ways of contacting us that means call handlers are free to deal with people who need the police.
"In recent weeks we have tweeted extreme examples of calls, but these are the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we are trying to do with managing demand."
Police tweets about calls
999 call from a woman at a hairdressers refusing to pay as her new do was "a mess". Seeking legal advice. Not a police matter.
Fast food place rang asking us to deal with a man who took a dead mole in the shop. Odd one, but for manager to sort, not police.
Call received about a dead duck on the A18 near the airport and six ducklings standing nearby.
Scared of spiders? We got a call from someone reporting a huge spider in her home. She wanted an officer to get rid of it.
Evening call reporting concern for baby bat in distress outside caller's home. Police assistance requested.
Call received by us reporting a bad smell in the air. We didn't send an officer. We did suggest ringing Environmental Health.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Humberside Police:
Humberside Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing an area covering the East Riding of Yorkshire, the city of Kingston upon Hull, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire.
Published: Monday, June 29, 2015
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