Bedfordshire Police is calling on residents for help following an overnight spike in 999 calls.
The force says that between midnight Wednesday and the same time on Thursday September 15 it took 13 per cent more 999 calls than normal – but an unacceptable number were not real emergencies at all.
The 414 calls to 999 included residents who wanted to enquire about lost property, complain about parking issues outside their homes or report offences that were several days old.
Some did not realise that the non-emergency 101 number – introduced in 2012 and regularly publicised ever since – even existed.
Force Control Room Chief Inspector, Jamie Langwith, emphasised that 999 is for emergency calls ONLY. Each year the force fields an incredible 110,000 of them – most of which are answered within 10 seconds. Emergencies are things like:
Someone is at immediate risk of harm or injury
The offence is still happening, or
The offender is still at the scene.
The 101 number – which will never cost more than 15p - acts as a gateway into all other Bedfordshire Police services and callers are greeted with an automated switchboard. The force takes around 330,000 101 calls a year, the vast majority of which are answered in 30 seconds. It should be used in non-emergency circumstances like:
To speak to a specific person or department
To give information about crime in an area
Where there is suspicion of drug use or dealing
A car theft or criminal damage overnight
To report a minor traffic collision
In common with other services and businesses, there is always the possibility of reaching a voicemail with some of departments if staff are busy, but callers will be dealt with as soon as possible. One of the busiest departments is the Crime Bureau which takes no less than 50,000 calls a year on all sorts of common “volume” crimes such as criminal damage and burglaries from outbuildings.
Chief Insp Langwith said: “The message I want to get across is that by making inappropriate calls