Lives Put in Danger Due to Inappropriate Calls

A call to the 999 service about a strawberry falling on the floor is one of many inappropriate and hoax calls made to Cleveland Police on the emergency 999 number this year.

Police are warning those people that make inappropriate calls not to misuse the system as it could put lives in danger by preventing someone in a genuine emergency from getting through. Often these calls are well-intentioned, but should be directed elsewhere.

Other well-intentioned but inappropriate calls include a call made about itchy stretch marks, a man in need of dental treatment and a call about leaking water.

Hoax callers are also being warned that they could face prosecution should they deliberately misuse valuable resources.

Between January and October this year, police have received 1648 hoax calls into the Force, which include people rapping, singing and swearing at call takers.

The lead up to Christmas has traditionally been a busy period for all emergency services.

Superintendent Alison Jackson, who works alongside Sopra Steria to run the Force Control Room, said: “This example provides just a glimpse of the many inappropriate and non-policing related calls that we receive on a daily basis.

“Our time is precious, we are here to save lives and to protect the community.

“Each inappropriate call impacts on our ability to carry out our policing role and ties-up call takers and resources that could be directed elsewhere.

“We urge people to think before they dial and ask themselves, is this a policing issue, and if so, would it require an emergency response? Of course if it is a policing matter, we will deal with it based on threat, harm, risk and vulnerability of the caller.”

The 999 system should be used where:

  • There is risk of injury
  • There is risk of serious damage to property
  • You suspect a crime is in progress
  • It is a serious incident which needs immediate police attendance

The non-emergency number for police is 101 and should be used where:

  • There is no immediate danger to life
  • The crime is not in progress
  • The offender is not nearby
  • You have a general enquiry