Police have ‘robust plans’ to protect 999 service in pandemic

·2-min read
Police said 999 calls will be protected (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
Police said 999 calls will be protected (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

Police have said the 999 service will be prioritised during the pandemic but warned there may be longer waiting times for non-emergency calls.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said the Omicron variant of coronavirus is having an impact on the force, with a large number of staff absent due to its high transmissibility.

However he said that “robust plans” are in place to maintain staffing levels in contact centres to protect the emergency service.

Police Scotland said the 999 service is prioritised at all times, but that people should expect it to take longer for calls to the non-emergency 101 number to be answered.

The force reminded people to only dial 999 for emergencies.

We are taking all steps necessary to protect these critical services and we will continue to prioritise our critical 999 emergency calls to ensure we can assist those who need us most, as quickly as possible

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs

Mr Speirs said: “The new Omicron Covid variant is having a significant effect on the country and Police Scotland is included in that.

“We, like any other organisation, are dealing with a large number of absences due to the high transmissibility of Omicron; however, I would like to reassure people that the 999 and 101 service is here and is ready to assist as we face this new challenge in the pandemic.

“We are taking all steps necessary to protect these critical services and we will continue to prioritise our critical 999 emergency calls to ensure we can assist those who need us most, as quickly as possible.

“However we also need to make people aware that the serious effects of Omicron is likely to impact our non-emergency 101 service. This means there will be longer waiting times for those calls to be answered.”

Police said the 999 number is just for emergencies and should only be used to call for urgent assistance when there is an immediate danger to life or safety, or if a serious crime is taking place at that moment.

Mr Speirs added: “We have robust plans in place to maintain staffing levels throughout our contact centres to protect the 999 service.

“I want to emphasise that if you dial 999 for assistance, we will always respond. However I would urge everyone to play their part by following guidance on the use of 999 and 101 services.”

Non-urgent issues can also be reported online using the Contact Us form on the Police Scotland website – https://www.scotland.police.uk/secureforms/contact/

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