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30 June 2017, 15:24
Today, the 999 service turns 80-years old and Norfolk Police's Chief Constable is urging members of the public to think carefully before calling 999 or 101.
Year on year, particularly during the summer months, calls into the Contact and Control Room (CCR) have increased significantly and on average call handlers are now taking 1,200 phone calls every day.
Within Norfolk Constabulary's Contact and Control Room (CCR):
· So far in 2017, there has been an 18% increase in 999 calls.
· In May 2017, there was a 22% increase in 999 calls and a 7% increase in 101 calls (compared to 2016).
· So far in June 2017, there has been an 18% increase in 999 calls and a 7% increase in 101 calls (compared to 2016).
Within Suffolk Constabulary's Contact and Control Room (CCR):
" So far in 2017, there has been a 13% increase in 999 calls.
" In May 2017, there were almost 700 more 999 calls (compared to 2016), which was an increase of almost 9%. However, there was a decrease of more than 6% in 101 calls
" So far in June 2017, there has been a 17% increase in 999 calls but more than a 3% decrease in 101 calls (compared to 2016).
To tackle this, the 'Make the Right Call' campaign is being used to remind people to think carefully before dialling 999 and 101 and to consider alternatives for non-police matters.
Chief Constable of Norfolk Police, Simon Bailey, said: "On a daily basis, staff in the CCR are being pushed to breaking point by the sheer number of 999 and 101 calls coming in.
"In May alone, we saw an increase of more than a thousand 999 calls requiring an urgent response.
"It is crucial as a police service we are available when people need us, at all times. This is why I am urging members of the public to think carefully when dialling 999 or 101.
"People should only call 999 if there is a direct and immediate threat to life or property or if a crime is in progress.
"Our staff prioritise people who are in immediate need and if you ring 999 in error you could be preventing someone else in a genuine emergency from getting through."
In a bid to help reduce demand and put resources where they are needed the most, the force's new website has more self-service functions including online forms for:
- Reporting a crime
- Low-level anti-social behaviour
- Road traffic collisions, which do not require a police attendance
- Dashboard camera footage
In some instances, members of the public can use these forms to report incidents instead of calling 101.
Mr Bailey added: "We know that people are more likely to go online and use social media as part of their everyday lives and therefore we have designed our new website to be as user-friendly as possible.
"Where a police attendance is not necessary, I would urge members of the public to use these online forms to free up our emergency and non-emergency phone lines."
Another way police are trying to reduce unnecessary demand is through education with a new video highlighting the serious consequences of making hoax calls to 999 being shown in schools across Norfolk.
The video, produced by police with drama students from City Academy in Norwich, features a dramatic scene where, on a long summer day, a teenage girl and her friends make a hoax call. The group are unaware that at the same time the girl's mother has been attacked at her home, finding herself put on hold when she tries to call 999.
The short-film is being shown alongside a video interview with Charlie Lilley, a call handler in Norfolk's CCR in the hope people think twice about making a hoax call to 999.
Charlie said: "In the time I'm making those checks, my colleagues around me are struggling to take genuine 999 calls. When you find out it's a hoax call it's incredibly frustrating and it's disheartening that people think that's a fun thing to do."
She added: "Don't make hoax calls - it could be your family that call 999 one day and can't get through. Please remember the emergency services are there for emergencies."