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Force urges public to be considerate when calling 999 as demand rises during summer months
24 Jul | 12:30

A lost tortoise, a man coughing too loudly and someone in need of a locksmith - these are just a few of the recent calls made to Northumbria Police’s 999 emergency call handlers.

While the calls might seem humorous, the Force has taken the decision to release the conversations to illustrate the dangers of misusing 999 and highlight the alternative ways to contact police as demand is set to soar this summer.

Superintendent Mark Hall from Northumbria Police’s Communications department said: “Over the summer months we do see demand increase significantly to both our 999 emergency and 101 emergency lines in terms of call volume.

“We know that demand rises due to a number of reasons and would ask that the public work with us to help ensure those in need can receive police assistance as quickly as possible.

“It is no secret that we experience spikes in anti-social behaviour over the next few weeks and that can account for a number of these calls but we do see more nuisance calls over the summer months.

“It is not appropriate to ring 999 because you want a lift or because you’ve got a complaint about a burger you’ve bought from a takeaway after a night out.

“We would also like to make it clear that it is completely unacceptable to waste police time and call our lines when you can’t get hold of the service you need, we are not a telephone directory service, we are a working police force.

“We take thousands of calls in our centres every day and we want to be able to deliver an outstanding service to everyone who gets in touch.

“Improvements have also been made to our website and now with an online form and a live chat function we have more ways than ever before for you to contact us.

“But these nuisance calls may stop us from getting help for a vulnerable person in need so all we would ask is that you think twice before picking up the phone and ringing the police on 999 if it is not an emergency.”

Last summer, calls made to both 999 and 101 lines increased significantly. There were 20,676 emergency calls taken in June, 22,943 in July and 21,323 in August. Non-emergency calls also increased with 27,284 calls made to 101 in June, 28,503 in July and 32,961 in August.

This year, the lines are just as busy with 21,001 emergency and 31,335 non-emergency calls taken in June and so far this month, 16,222 emergency and 23,289 non-emergency calls have been taken.

For more information on what matters the police can deal with, and to report an incident online, follow

If you have a non-emergency call 101 or you can report it online at

Always call 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.


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