999 is a number that everyone knows, children from a young age are taught to call 999 if there is an emergency, but do you know when you should call 101 instead? Did you know you can report a crime using our website?
Every year we receive over 200,000 999 calls, but last year 1 in 5 of the calls weren’t emergency calls. In fact last year 85 calls a day were classified as ‘inappropriate use of 999’ and 37 calls a day should have been directed to another agency. We get calls asking for taxi numbers, opening hours of the local convenience store and over Christmas we even had a call to 999 from someone reporting a queue jumper in the Santa Grotto.
Often when people panic they remember the 999 number and call it. We are here 24/7 365 days a year to help you, but if it’s identified as being a non-emergency then you may have to wait for another operator. We need to free up the 999 lines as there could be a life or death emergency waiting to get through.
Advice for calling 999:
If you don’t need an emergency response, then you should call 101 or use our online reporting form on our website. This could be to report a crime or to seek advice, for example your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged or you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood. Calls to 101 incur a 15p charge but this is a flat fee for the entirety of the call [mobiles included]
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It's not an emergency but a man's just knocked on my door saying that there has been a problem with the water pressure and he needs to check my pressure... He has no ID and I saw on TV that there have been a lot of distraction burglaries in this area. I have seen him walking towards my neighbour's houses down the street.
As the potential offender is still in the area, you should call 999 so police officers can attend if appropriate. If it happened in the past, it's still worth reporting it to 101 to inform your local policing team as there may be a pattern.
The traffic is not moving, I think that there is a problem with the traffic lights.
This isn't an emergency unless it causes a danger. However, we appreciate it is annoying and will try and help on 101. We will attempt to contact whoever owns the lights, it would be useful if you could tell us who owns them - that information should be marked on the actual traffic lights.
Drunks are fighting outside your home, or even throwing stones at windows, and you feel frightened.
You need police help immediately and the situation is still in progress with the offenders on the scene.
There is an accident on the motorway.
All motorway incidents should be reported on 999.
Someone has stolen my mobile phone.
We can take your details on 101 and avoid occupying the emergency line. If you have a contract phone it is also important you let your phone provider know. However if the offender is still on scene or has just left, you should dial 999.
There is a car parked on double yellow lines or parked outside my house.
It's neither. You will need to contact your local council.
My husband has not returned from work, he is normally home by now.
If it's out of character for your husband not to return and you are unable to get hold of him how you normally would, then let us know on 101. It's not a 999 call unless you have reason to believe he's in danger. It would be useful if you have made initial enquiries with work/family/friends to ensure he is not just running late and run out of phone battery.
You need the number of a local Indian restaurant.
This is neither a 999 nor a 101 call - try directory enquiries.