If you found a dead squirrel, who would you call? Your local council? Perhaps a nearby street cleaning team? What about if the favourite takeaway delivered the wrong order? Surely a strongly worded call to the restaurant itself would put things in order?
One thing is for certain, not many of us would dial 999 to demand the help of the emergency services in situations such as these. Not many of us, perhaps, but clearly some.
The Metropolitan Police has released audio of some of worst nuisance calls it received this year and yes, you guessed it, both the above examples make an appearance.
Featured elsewhere in the sorry inventory is the person who thought that the best way to find their nearest New Years’ Eve fireworks display was to dial 999, and the person who rang the emergency police hotline to complain about a faulty purchase at a Christmas market.
The Met revealed that out 3.2 million calls made this year, more than 18,300 were unnecessary. It added that the peak time for making nuisance calls was over Christmas and the New Year, almost certainly because people have more spare time on their hands.
Despite the light-hearted nature of the audio release, officers take nuisance call incredibly seriously, monitoring their origins and prosecuting those considered to have deliberately set out to waste police time.
Just last month a man from North London was sentenced to six months in prison for making a number of unnecessary 999 calls.
In a statement, Chief Superintendent Jim Read said: “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.”
Official police guidance is to only dial 999 when someone is at immediate risk of violence, if a crime is still in process or the offenders are still nearby, or if there has been a serious road traffic accident. Incidents such as car theft, vandalism or drug dealing should be reported using the police non-emergency line, which can be reached by dialling 101.
Needless to say, there is no need to call the police at all if your takeaway arrives cold.