Despite public services messages every year, members of the public are still dialling 999 for ridiculous reasons.
The Metropolitan Police have revealed just some of the time-wasting calls made to emergency services in 2018 – potentially putting other lives in danger in what could be life or death situations.
Among the unnecessary calls made to police this year are people complaining about missing food, arguments between motorists and annoying bus drivers.
Between 1 January and 30 November 2018, the Met’s Command and Control call centre took more than two million calls.
During that same period, the Met recorded 21,733 calls as hoax calls to the 999 number.
The worst of the worst are:
On New Year’s Day, a woman called police to wish them a Happy New Year.
On 10 March, a female called police to demand that a female taxi driver come and pick her up.
On 21 March, a member of the public phoned up because a fast-food restaurant had run out of chicken.
On 6 July, a male caller phoned to tell the call handler that a bus driver had shut the door in his face, when in fact the bus had broken down and no one was allowed on board.
On 19 September, a man called 999 to report that his breakfast had not been served quick enough at a central London pub.
On 19 November, a male driver called police to tell them that he had been having an argument with a female driver about who had the right of way.
On 25 November, a female member of the public called police to report that her bus driver had been whistling throughout her journey.
Chief Superintendent David Jackson, who is in charge of call handling for the Met, warned that the calls could put lives in jeopardy.
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He said: ‘Whilst some people will find these calls funny, they take away police resources at a time that police numbers and funding are stretched, and we must continue to make savings across the service.
‘During the time that our call handlers are dealing with these time-wasting calls, a member of the public could be in real danger or have built up the confidence to call with an important piece of information that could take a dangerous person off the streets.
‘Imagine if one of your friends or loved ones was in need of the police as quickly as possible and it turned out we could not help because we were having to deal with one of these hoax calls – I’m sure that you, like us, would be devastated and extremely annoyed.’
He added: ‘Whilst we do not want to deter or scare people from calling us, we must remind you that the use of the 999 system is for emergencies only.
‘If you need the police, and it is not an emergency, please call 101. Alternatively, all crime, anti-social behaviour and other incidents can now be reported online 24/7 via our website
‘We also have a Twitter account, @MetCC, which people can tweet any non-emergency enquiries to 24/7.’