Ensuring we’re available when you need us – Action taken against people who deliberately or persistently misuse 999 and 101 services
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Our control room colleagues work around the clock to answer public calls and online contact for help. In an emergency situation, being able to speak to one of the team quickly can literally mean the difference between life and death.
We work hard to educate the public on the proper use of both the non-emergency 101 number and the emergency 999, and what constitutes a police matter, to ensure lines are free for those most in need.
As well as reducing demand and ensuring the public can reach us when they need, this work also ensures people get through to the organisation they really need much quicker.
We will also take action against those who persistently or deliberately misuse the service and potentially put others’ lives at risk.
In addition he was made subject of a two-year Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from contacting any emergency service via any contact methods, save for in a genuine emergency situation.
Applications for further CBOs for other individuals have also been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, while another woman has been made subject of a Community Protection Notice as a result of the number of calls she has made while intoxicated.
The individuals in these instances were each responsible for making hundreds of calls to either the emergency 999 line or via non-emergency channels, significantly impacting on demand on control room specialists and the wait times for genuine callers.
Call handlers spent more than 24 hours dealing with a caller using one number during a six-month period. That same caller also contacted more than 100 times via another number, wasting a further 28 hours of operators' time.
Public Service Centre Inspector Rob Blunt stressed that such stringent steps are taken as a last resort, but that the action is necessary in order to protect the wider public.
Insp Blunt said:
“We are a 24/7 service and we are proud to be here to help those who need us, when they need us. Unfortunately, despite a lot of work to educate the public on the risks of misusing 999 and 101, we continue to get a number of people who call us frequently for no legitimate reason.
“We do understand that other factors, such as mental health concerns, may often play a large part and we work closely with partner agencies and specialists to try and intervene before the situation escalates to this point.
“Our teams have also been in direct contact with individuals concerned, as well as their family members, social services and medical professionals, to explain the potential consequences.
“But where individuals refuse to cooperate and understand the gravity of their actions, we are left with little choice but to take action.”