999 Really For Emergencies Only

By london_alice Last edited 135 months ago
999 Really For Emergencies Only


We all know that in case of an emergency, you dial 999 and emergency services will come rushing to your aid. Apparently though, there seems to be some confusion on what exactly constitutes an "emergency".

Examples of things you should not call 999 for include:

An argument over the rightful owner of a DVD

Needing assistance in turning on your water supply

A spider in your living room

A mobile phone not working properly

Running out of beer

These are all examples of the thousands of non-emergency calls fielded by 999 operators in the last year. Most calls to 999 are genuine emergencies of course, but calls made either as a joke or because people are genuinely unaware of what counts as an emergency put unneeded strain on the emergency lines.

There were around 19000 non-emergency calls made to 999 last year, but the majority of those were dropped calls, likely caused by mobiles being accidentally dialled or children playing with the telephone. It's the prank and joke calls that are causing the real problems. We're sure the guys who ran out of beer would feel pretty bad if someone with a medical emergency couldn't get through because beer delivery requests were tying up the time of an operator.

Just in case there's still confusion, this is when you should be calling 999:

An emergency call should be made when someone is in danger, a crime is in progress or if a serious crime such as rape or assault occasioning bodily harm has occurred

If it's not an emergency, but you still need police assistance, call 0845 125 2222 to speak to the police.

That's not so hard, is it?

Image courtesy of AlbinoFlea's Flickr photostream

Last Updated 24 August 2007