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Inappropriate Use of 999 at Christmas Time

In the run up to Christmas, Cleveland Police are reminding people to use the 999 system appropriately, and not to make hoax calls.

Those that make malicious calls to the emergency services are being warned that action will be taken against them.

Potentially, lives are put at risk by tying up phone lines and operators, meaning that those in a genuine emergency situation cannot reach the emergency services as quickly.

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

Examples of inappropriate calls to police include:

• A woman caller rang 999 to say she had placed an order with a takeaway restaurant and when it was delivered, the order was wrong. The restaurant were refusing to correct the order and so the caller wanted police involvement.
• A man contacted police and stated that he needed to send a fax but did not know how to send one.
• A caller requested that police type up a CV for someone looking for a job.
• A man called police at 4.30am asking for the result of a recent Middlesbrough FC match.
• A man called 999 to say that he needed a telephone number for dental treatment and his local surgery was closed.

Detective Superintendent Ian Coates said: “Inappropriate calls to the police service prevent and delay genuine emergency calls from getting through to the operators in our control room.

“Every year we reiterate the same message but people still use the system in the wrong way. All we ask is that people think thoroughly before they pick up the phone and dial 999.”

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