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Listen: ‘I’ve missed the last train, can I have a lift, officer?’ – crackdown on non-emergency 999 calls

PUBLISHED: 14:05 31 July 2014 | UPDATED: 14:08 31 July 2014

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted.

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was assaulted.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

There’s a rat in your shower, a squirrel with rabies or you’ve missed the train – who are you going to call?

Police advice:

Police say if you have a genuine reason for ringing the constabulary and find yourself in a queue it is important to remember that calls cost 15p for the duration of the call, hanging up and recalling may be more expensive than holding.

If you remain on hold you will move up through a queue, calling back will put you at the back of the queue. If you can, avoid calling between 10am and 12 noon and 4pm to 6pm when the calls peak.

Not 999. That’s the message from Norfolk police as they urge people to only contact them with genuine emergencies, especially during the busy summer period.

The force’s Contact and Control Room receive more than 60,000 calls in July and August every year and now officers have released examples to remind people to think carefully before dialling 999.

Chief inspector Chris Harvey, Norfolk police control room manager, said: “Non-emergency or inappropriate calls tie up our emergency lines and can prevent callers with genuine emergencies from getting through – at worst they can put other people’s lives at risk.

“People should only call 999 if there is a direct and immediate threat to life or property or if a crime is in progress. Our staff prioritise people who are in immediate need and if you ring 999 in error you will be directed to call the 101 police non-emergency number or sign-posted to the most appropriate agency.”

The most inappropriate 999 calls:

• “I’m drunk, can I tell you a joke?”

• “I’ve missed the last train, can I have a lift?”

• “Where’s the nearest late night chemist?”

• “My child was playing with the phone and accidently dialed 999.”

• “I am struggling to open a bottle.”

• “Help me change a light-bulb.”

• “My budgie flew out of a window”

•Tomorrow night @NorfolkPolice will be Tweeting live from the control room between 6pm and 11pm, to highlight the difficulties and demands faced by call handlers and showing how 999 is misused on the busiest night of the week.

•You can access information and advice using the “FAQ” link on our website at

•You can also access useful information via “ask the police” on

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