Emergency Line Must Be For Emergencies

Hampshire officers are being put under even more pressure due to the number of non-emergency 999 calls, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

A recent survey found that, on a given day, only 49% of calls received by Hampshire Constabulary were genuine emergencies. Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said this not only affects over-stretched call handlers but also the officers who respond to real emergencies.

She said: “Our colleagues who work in the control rooms, a mixture of police officers and police staff, have to deal with the stuff that’s not an emergency, when they might be able to still hear the 999 phones ringing.

“So they’re spending their time dealing with things that aren’t an emergency, when actually there are people who really have a genuine emergency and really need their help and support.

“If that then delays officers being deployed, it puts more pressure on our colleagues to get to a job as quickly and safely as they can. We don’t want people sitting waiting while the phone’s ringing because our controllers are speaking to somebody where it’s not an emergency.”

She continued: “I get the frustration from the public. There’s a lot of stuff where it might not be an emergency but they really need an answer now. And actually the other options don’t give them that.

“My message to the public is: please bear with us. We understand that the other systems don’t give you an immediate answer, but we are struggling resource-wise, we are doing the best we can, and we really do need to keep that emergency line open for those genuine emergencies.

“If you needed us in an emergency, you wouldn’t want to be kept on the line, waiting for somebody to pick it up. You’d want them to pick up straight away.”

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