A woman who felt threatened by anti-social youths hanging around outside her home says she felt let down by the police after she was unable to speak to an operator on the evening of the incident.
Caz Eaton, of Summer Street, Leighton, called the 101 non-emergency Beds Police number last Monday night at 8pm in hope of speaking to someone about threatening youths who had congregated on her drive while home alone.
But instead, Caz was greeted by a recorded voice who told her there were not many operators on duty and that she should leave a message or call back between 9am and 5pm.
Caz, who chose not to leave a message or call 999, said: “They were dressed in trackies with hoodies and looked like they were up to no good, which was making me nervous. My imagination was running wild; I felt threatened.
“The police are there to protect us, but I felt scared and they weren’t there.”
After several hours Caz was still uneasy about the situation and, after posting a message on her Facebook page, she was visited by a male friend who drove round the block to see what the teenagers were up to.
Caz added: “I just wanted the police to do a driveby, but I didn’t feel like it was a 999 emergency call.
“Not everyone has a teenage son who became protective and came home to check the place out. But even then I didn’t sleep a wink that night, every tiny noise and I was awake.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: “In September 2011, Bedfordshire Police joined forces around the UK in launching the 101 telephone number to provide people with an easier way to get in touch about non-emergency issues.
“As well as making the police more accessible, the 101 number has helped reduce the number of inappropriate 999 calls that are made to the force. The 101 number was part of a national drive to make it easier to contact the police and report crime and disorder after a 2010 British Crime Survey found that only 54 per cent of the public knew how to contact their local police.
“On average, Bedfordshire Police receives more than 1300 calls a day but only about 11 per cent of those require an emergency response from the police. 999 should only be used in a real emergency, that is when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby or where someone is injured, being threatened or in danger.
“For all other matters such as reporting less urgent crime or disorder, contacting police with a general enquiry or speaking to an officer the public should contact Bedfordshire Police on the 101 number.”