Would you call the police if you found a box of abandoned rabbits on a grass verge or missed your last bus home? Some people do.
At Humberside Police more than one in four calls received on the 999 system are inappropriate, either because they simply are not emergencies requiring immediate police assistance or they are not police matters at all.
People opt for 999 because they have no credit left on their phones or because they wrongly assume they will get dealt with more speedily if they ring 999 rather than 101.
Now, call takers are taking a stand and rather than simply sending a police officer to every incident, they will re-direct people to the most appropriate route.
And the public are being urged to “click before you call” and instead of ringing the police, unless it’s a real emergency, visit the website.
The recently launched new force website click here offers a wealth of information and is available to the public at the click of a button with details about everything from neighbourhood teams, police meetings and crime prevention advice through to the ability to report a minor crime online, complain or simply say thank you.
People who are not in urgent need of the police are being encouraged to first visit the website and see whether the answer they are looking for is there.
Chief Inspector Mark Bishop said: “This is about us trying to educate the public as to who they ought to be contacting in order to ensure our very valuable resources are not tied up inappropriately.
“Some people don’t think before picking up the phone and dialling 999 and when they are doing so when it is not an emergency they are actually preventing other people, with real emergencies from getting through.”
People also make unnecessary use of the non-emergency police number 101, calling the police about a raft of issues that are not police related, clogging up phone lines and preventing genuine callers from getting through.
Ch Insp Bishop said: “It is very important to us that we are able to deal with callers in a timely and efficient manner and this is hampered by those calls that come through to us that simply should not involve the police.
“On a daily basis we are called about animal welfare issues, noise nuisance, bullying, parking and a lots of subjects that are the responsibility of the police.
“We want to provide the best service we can and to help us to do that we need the public to help us by thinking before they pick up the phone.”