Most unusual calls to police

PUBLISHED: 10:17 07 September 2007 | UPDATED: 21:48 29 May 2010

POLICE are reminding people that the 999 emergency number is strictly for emergencies and should only be used in urgent cases. The 999 system is 70 years old this year and to mark the anniversary, Essex Police has revealed some of the more unusual calls t

POLICE are reminding people that the 999 emergency number is strictly for emergencies and should only be used in urgent cases.

The 999 system is 70 years old this year and to mark the anniversary, Essex Police has revealed some of the more unusual calls they have received.

One distressed woman dialled 999 when she could not get her son out of bed, while another caller rang 999 to tell them: "I can't get a taxi home and I've got no credit. Can you phone one for me or give me a lift?"

Chief Inspector Nick Lee, of Essex Police communications division, explained that while these examples might sound funny, they wasted police time and could have led to delays for someone trying to get through with a genuine emergency.

"These calls may seem amusing," he said, "but the callers are clearly misusing the 999 facility. We are using the anniversary of the system to get the message across that by making hoax calls, hanging up, or by using the service for anything other than its function holds up callers with genuine emergencies.

"The public should only be calling 999 in emergency situations. These include where a person has been seriously hurt or is about to be seriously hurt and situations which require immediate policing, e.g. a crime in progress or one that has just occurred or a road crash with injuries."

Ten per cent of the 999 calls made to Essex Police in the last year - 13,193 out of more than 130,000 - represented bad use of the service.

On each occasion the caller was told the circumstances in which a 999 call was justified, and warned that persistent abuse would lead to prosecution.

Some of the unusual ways in which the 999 facility has been misused include a person asking what time a fireworks display in Romford was taking place.

Another requested the number for Crimestoppers, while one caller dialled 999 to report a parrot that was struck up a tree.

A woman who had been out for an evening and was walking home called the number for no other reason than she wanted a chat; another rang simply to ask for a lift home.

One caller rang to ask what the weather would be like the following day, as he intended to go for a picnic.

When a man's wife boarded the wrong bus to get back to their home and ended up in Romford, he dialled 999 to ask what he should do.

And a woman with a fear of spiders called the emergency number because there was one of the eight-legged beasts in her house that she wanted the police to remove.

None of these calls should have been made to the police at all.

If you do need to contact the police, but it is not an emergency, people living in the Saffron Walden area should call 01799 513232.

Stansted Airport police can be contacted on 01279 680298

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