Real recordings used in ‘funny’ video campaign to reduce inappropriate 999 calls

Devon and Cornwall Police is using humour to reduce inappropriate 999 calls over Christmas.

It is releasing a series of videos, accompanied by real recordings of calls, as part of a campaign to help manage demand on the contact centre during the festive season.

Every Christmas and New Year, calls to 999 increase and whilst a lot are genuine emergencies, many are not.  In November alone the force saw a 23 per cent increase in emergency calls compared to last year. It expects the trend to continue.

The first video was released on social media channels yesterday and is entitled #999SwallowedCard.  The video illustrates a man calling because his bank card has been swallowed by a cashpoint.

Three further videos – #999WhatNumber, #999OrangeHair and #999BaconSandwich – will be released in the coming weeks.

All the videos illustrate real calls the force has received and were not emergencies.

The force hopes the ‘comical and ridiculous nature of the calls will encourage people to share them and help educate people as to what is and isn’t an emergency’.

999 calls prioritised

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans said: “999 calls take precedence for the force, and we will always prioritise these calls.  However we have seen an increased demand in the numbers of 999 calls both genuine and not that we have received this year already, and we are expecting this to increase further during the festive season.

“As many as one in three calls to 999 are not emergencies.  The calls we’ve chosen to highlight not only show the misappropriate use of 999 but the lack of understanding of what is an emergency.

“We aim to answer 999 calls within 10 seconds, but if operators find themselves continually tied up with improper calls this prevents us dealing with genuine emergencies. By highlighting some of the more comical inappropriate calls we hope this will help people understand the importance of the using the emergency 999 number for the right reasons.

“We realise that sometimes people don’t know who to contact, and often see the police as their first port of call, especially if they feel there is a need for an immediate answer.  However, we would ask, if your call clearly isn’t an emergency and you need help or advice then visit our website – where you can find the answer to the most commonly asked questions.

“Our website has a wealth of information to help resolve queries, you can also use AskNED – our non-emergency directory which can help with all manner of questions.  Plus you can report non-emergency queries easily by using our online contact methods – Webchat, Email 101 and Report Crime Online.”

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