22nd January 2020

Male calls 999 “to fix his shower” – Police launch Twitter account to encourage correct use of 999 and 101

Avon and Somerset Police have launched a new Twitter account as part of a campaign to encourage people to think before they call and help reduce demand on the non-emergency 101 line.

The new account @ASPCallCentre will be monitored by call handlers in the force’s Communications Centre. Tweets will provide guidance on the correct use of 101 and 999 and staff will also take questions from the public and give an insight into the types of calls they deal with.

The account also aims to highlight times of peak demand, so people can make the decision to call back later. The account cannot be used to report crime.

Staff in the Communications Centre currently answer an average of 2,200 calls to 101 each day. Calls to 999 are fewer but always prioritised, with 80% answered inside 10 seconds.

The force has 17 new call handlers in training, with more staff starting courses in September. However, police continue to see times of peak demand and are encouraging people to think before they call, and look online if it’s not urgent.

Becky Tipper, Communications Centre Manager, said:

“Our specialist call handlers do a fantastic job each day to help the public with a range of emergency and non-emergency issues.

“Teams are now trained to record crime and intelligence at first point of contact and make referrals to our dedicated Lighthouse Victim Care service.

“Calls of this type take a little longer but provide a better quality of service for people when they need us.

“We do see common times of peak demand and this campaign is about providing information so people know when to call us, and how to save time by checking our website first.”

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson, Avon and Somerset’s chief officer responsible for the area of Communications, said:

“Our new way of working in the Communications Centre is designed to make sure we provide a high quality service and prioritise help and support for those who need us most.

“The nature of policing today means we must place calls about threat, harm and risk at the very top of the list for our officers to respond. We want to encourage people to help us in protecting those people who are most vulnerable by thinking before they call us and asking themselves, is their call really important and necessary?”

Avon and Somerset Police recently released recordings of inappropriate calls made to 101 and 999, including reports of a sandwich-stealing seagull and an angry badger. While these may entertain and make news headlines, they may block emergency calls and this is message police are keen to stress.

Alongside the thousands of hoax and inappropriate calls, the force is also contacted about issues dealt with by other agencies.

The Avon and Somerset Police website provides information on which relevant agency people should contact about certain issues, including speeding, parking and lost property.

Further information is available at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/advice.

To report a non-urgent crime online visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report