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Cornwall police's time wasted by 999 calls about loo roll and defrosting turkey

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 14, 2013

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Chief Superintendent Jim Nye

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POLICE are hoping to avoid having to deal with emergency calls about how to defrost a turkey or where to get toilet rolls this Christmas.

These and other odd requests and questions have been among those dealt with by Devon and Cornwall Police call handlers.

However Chief Supt Jim Nye, commander of operations for the force area, hopes people will think twice before making such frivolous calls.

Mr Nye said the force received about one million calls last year, of which about 220,000 were 999 calls and the remaining calls on the non-emergency 101 line.

On December 25, 2012, handlers dealt with 531 999 calls and 721 non-emergency 101 calls, while on December 31, 2012, there were 541 999 calls and about 1,400 101 calls. However, by January 1, 2013 the numbers had jumped to 1,142 separate 999 calls and more than 1,500 101 calls.

Mr Nye said the calls were a huge demand on police and customer service surveys showed 85 per cent of callers where satisfied with the response they received.

However, he urged people help reduce the demand on stretched services by thinking whether the incident was truly an emergency, a non-emergency, or something partner agencies should deal with.

He also encouraged people to refer to the Devon and Cornwall Police website first for guidance.

He said: "If a crime is taking place, offenders are nearby, or life is at risk, call 999. If you are unsure and ring 101 the call can be upgraded to the emergency number if the call handler feels it should.

"Our staff are very professional and are trained to deal with these different calls.

"Some people phone 999 just to be abusive, others are emotional. Our call handlers will take time to try and deal with them using their training and experience."

Matt Harding, a police call handler for more than five years, and said the volume of calls during the festive season, particularly on New Years Eve, added pressure to the force.

He said: "It’s inevitable many calls are alcohol related. You have people calling saying their unhappy they’ve been asked to leave a club and door staff won’t let them in. You’re trying to talk sense into them, which at the best of times is hard, but when it’s a drunk person it’s even harder.

"You have very little time in between calls. You continue to do the research that’s required to make sure everyone’s safe."

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  • SWBADCOCK  |  December 14 2013, 1:12PM

    Can never legislate for those with less intelligence.

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