999 Calls Tweeted By West Midlands Police

A police force is staging a "tweetathon" to highlight time-wasting 999 calls - such as someone reporting a spiritual healer as a fraud.

West Midlands Police hope the day-long social media initiative will reduce the number of inappropriate calls to its 999 system, which prevent operators from dealing with genuine emergencies.

One call received during the tweetathon - which can be followed here - was from a caller requesting assistance to obtain a refund from an expensive car wash.

A separate "emergency" call was made by a member of public reporting a spiritual healer as a fraud, while another man dialled 999 asking the police "to come out to frighten his sister", the police force said.

As part of the campaign, the force tweeted links to recordings of previous bizarre calls, including one from a man claiming to have found a hair in his food at a fast food restaurant.

Another caller sought help from emergency operators after forgetting her Facebook password, while a man dialled 999 to ask how to dial the 101 non-emergency number.

Among Friday's calls were several from babies or children playing with mobile phones, while one officer tweeted: "Interesting start to the shift..male called 999 to say he has a heart problem as he is in love with a girl whom he does not know!"

Chief Inspector Sally Holmes, from the Force Contact department at West Midlands Police, described some of the calls received by 999 operators as ridiculous.

She said: "We regularly receive calls on the 9s about lost property, people asking for directions and from people who have been denied entry to a nightclub.

"Its astonishing listening to them but they hide a serious truth. Each call often takes minutes to deal with as staff have to clarify the situation - it might not sound like much but, if someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency, then a minute is a very long time to wait.

"I cannot stress enough that the 999 number is for emergencies only."

She urged people contacting the police for any other reason to dial 101.

Typically West Midlands Police receives over 1,500 calls a day to the 999 number.

Great Manchester Police launched a 24-hour tweetathon in 2010 to show all the 999 calls the force receives.