Complaints about out-of-date biscuits and an incorrect chippy order were among the time-wasting calls made to 999 this year, police figures show.
The UK’s largest force, the Metropolitan Police Service, has released audio from a number of 999 calls where the incident being reported was not in any way an emergency.
Met Police said thousands of callers wasted police time and resources while also potentially putting Londoners at risk.
Over 2 million calls were made to 999 in 2019.
Calling 999 to report out of date biscuits, an extra saveloy and chips or to ask the time is not an emergency and wastes police time, potentially putting other lives in danger.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) December 30, 2019
In new information published on the Met Police website today (30.12.19), the force revealed that one of the calls was from a woman who was ringing up to complain after a chip shop sent her three saveloy and chips instead of one.
Another caller, a man, phoned to ask the time, while someone else rang to complain that a packet of biscuits was out of date.
Chief Superintendent David Jackson, the man in charge of call handling at the Met, said that while some time-wasting calls might be seen as “amusing”, it’s worth remembering they block others who might be calling 999 with a real emergency.
He said in a statement: “Although these calls can be perceived as amusing, they are actually a huge waste of the Met’s resources.
“These hoax calls block the number from other members of the public who could be calling 999 in a real emergency, keeping people in danger waiting for longer and putting lives at risk.
Please think; the use of the 999 system is for emergencies only.
“If you are in a situation where you need to speak to the police, please think; the use of the 999 system is for emergencies only and we have other channels where you can speak with us.”
The Met’s Command and Control call centre received over 2.1million calls between January 1 and November 30 2019, according to official data.
Of that figure, 25,448 were identified as a hoax and closed by the call handlers.
Operators working on the 999 line received 22,491 hoax calls, while the non-emergency 101 number received 2,912 and the remaining 45 were hoax alarm calls.
When it’s not an emergency but members of the public still need to contact the police, they are advised to call 101.
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