Police Authority calls for proper use of 999 to reduce false calls


Posted on 3rd October 2011

Police watchdogs have issued a timely reminder to the public to ensure they only dial 999 in a real emergency.

Derbyshire Police Authority’s warning comes after new figures showed three in every ten 999 calls received by police in the county are not genuine.

Dialling 999 for a routine enquiry could divert assistance and resources away from someone who may actually need it and residents are being reminded of Derbyshire Constabulary’s general enquiries number for non-urgent matters. 

Data presented to the Authority this month reveals 22,615 999 calls were made to police in the county between April 1 and May 31 this year, of which 7,272 (32%) were not genuine emergencies.

During the following three months, up to September 6, a further 38,690 999 calls were made to police and 33% of these (12,934) were not legitimate 999 calls.  

The figures are in line with the experience of other forces, but members of Derbyshire Police Authority are keen to remind the public to only use 999 in an emergency situation – for safety reasons.

It will be easier to telephone the police in non-emergency situations later this year when Derbyshire residents will be able to simply dial 101 to contact police to report less urgent crime and disorder or to seek crime prevention advice. 

The new number is being introduced as part of a national programme designed to relieve pressure on the emergency service.

Philip Hickson, chairman of Derbyshire Police Authority, said: “These figures show an astonishing proportion of the calls our police operators deal with are not genuine emergencies and could be dealt with via the routine police number. This means that for every non-urgent call being made to the 999 operators, somebody somewhere else may not be able to receive the emergency help they desperately need.

“The 999 service is always under immense strain with hundreds of calls taken in Derbyshire every day. If residents directed their routine calls to the appropriate number, this would ease the pressure considerably and unblock the emergency lines, allowing officers to deal with serious situations more effectively.  

“The introduction of the 101 number later in the year will provide residents with a single memorable number in which to direct their non-urgent police calls which will hopefully make it easier as well as reduce the number of inappropriate calls to Derbyshire Constabulary. 

“As a Police Authority our highest priority is protecting the public and we would urge all residents to ensure that their use of 999 is appropriate to help us keep people safe. However, I would like to emphasise that in situations where someone is injured or in danger, where someone suspected of a crime is nearby or when a crime is taking place, residents should always dial 999.”