Public urged to use 999 sensibly

Calls to the 999 emergency line have included a complaint that the wrong food had been delivered and an inquiry about the location of New Year's Eve fireworks displays, the Metropolitan Police said.

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Police have warned the public to use 999 sensibly

Calls to the 999 emergency line have included a complaint that the wrong food had been delivered and an inquiry about the location of New Year's Eve fireworks displays, the Metropolitan Police said.

Misuse of the service was highlighted as police urged the public to use the system sensibly.

Scotland Yard said that Christmas and the New Year traditionally sees the emergency line at its busiest.

In 2012 the Met received a total of 4,687,642 emergency and non-emergency calls, of which 25,749 were nuisance calls. This year to date the Met has taken 3,205,260 calls (from January to the end of November) of which 18,333 were nuisance calls.

Calls over the last year which did not require a police response, and are classified as "nuisance", included a caller complaining about a faulty purchase made at a Christmas market, an inquiry about locations of New Year's Eve fireworks displays, a report of a dead squirrel and a food delivery made to the wrong address.

A Met spokesman said that in general people should only call 999 if someone's life was at risk o r someone was being physically threatened, if a crime was in progress or the offenders were still nearby, or there was a road traffic collision causing personal injury or danger.

He said in a non-emergency people should call call the number 101.

This should be used for reporting less urgent crime or disorder, or matters such as a car being stolen, property damaged, or where drug use or dealing was suspected.

The Central Communications Command, which receives emergency calls, monitors nuisance calls, which can lead to prosecutions. Last month, a 38-year-old man from Wembley was jailed for six months for abusing the 999 emergency system for making hoax emergency calls.

Chief Superintendent Jim Read, of the Central Communications Command, said: "We want Londoners to have a safe and enjoyable festive season, however, in the event that police are required, we need their calls to reach us swiftly.

"Nuisance or deliberate misuse of the 999 emergency system presents a very real risk to our ability to effectively respond to genuine emergencies that can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

"The MPS is here for London and it will be business as usual for our call handling centres over the Christmas and New Year period.

"I would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that if it is not an emergency then please dial 101, our single-non emergency number."