Broken TVs and rows with taxi drivers - the 'inappropriate' 999 calls stopping police dealing with real emergencies

Cleveland Police has revealed some of the ‘inappropriate’ 999 calls received amid increased demand on the force.

Sunday, 31st July 2022, 3:56 pm

The force has hit out at alerts which “waste time” and divert call handlers “from genuine emergencies”.

The summer months bring increased pressures on officers, with the control room expected to deal with around 300 calls made to 999 “every single day”.

Latest available figures show that in January 2022, 8,727 calls were made to 999.

Some of the "inappropriate" calls made to 999 have been revealed.

That number had risen to 9,771 the following June, an increase of more than 1,000 – and chiefs claim the trend is continuing.

Recent inappropriate calls to the force included someone saying they had been sold a broken TV and a woman who said she couldn’t get through to her GP for an appointment but didn’t want to call the ambulance service and “bother them”.

A man also dialled 999 while sat in a taxi which he refused to get out of. Police has said in the background of the call the taxi driver could be heard telling him not to call 999 and to get out of his vehicle as he had been sat in it for 25 minutes.

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Superintendent Cath Galloway from the Force’s Control Room said: “Every hour of every day we are dealing with 999 calls through our Force Control Room.

“For most people who call it is probably the worst time of their lives and it is a genuine emergency where they need our officers’ help. Yet we also receive a large number of inappropriate calls.

“Being sold faulty goods, a taxi dispute or needing a doctor’s appointment are clearly not life-threatening emergencies and the seconds it takes for our call handlers to clear the line are seconds someone in a genuine emergency has to wait.

“Our call handlers deal with hundreds of calls with compassion and professionalism every day but we want to ask everyone in our Force area to help us manage demand on 999 and to only use it when there is a life-threatening emergency, serious violence or a crime in progress. As the public would expect we must prioritise these calls requiring an immediate blue light response.

“You can report a non-urgent matter on 101, including getting updates on a crime you’ve already reported. You can also use our website www.cleveland.police.uk”