Video: Caller caution urged after Newham man asks 999 operator for directions

PUBLISHED: 09:44 19 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:44 19 December 2016

Police are urging Londoners to think before they dial 999 after emergency calls rose by more than 200,000 this year Picture: Met Police

Police are urging Londoners to think before they dial 999 after emergency calls rose by more than 200,000 this year Picture: Met Police


Calls to 999 rose by 216,000 across the capital this year.

Police are urging people to think before they dial 999 after callers used the emergency service to report the non-deliver of a fridge-freezer, concerns a hissing cat was following somebody and the shaving of a dog.

The #ThinkBeforeYouDial campaign stresses the danger that clogging the line can present for victims of crime in an emergency, after one man used the service to ask for directions in Stratford.

“Hello, good morning, sorry to bother you,” he said. “I’m lost, I’m looking for a security centre in Stratford and can’t find that building.

“Can you tell me where it is please?”

Police are especially concerned about time-wasters ahead of Christmas and New Year, a period in which 999 operators are at their busiest.

This year’s 11.2 per cent increase follows three years of reducing numbers in 999 calls made to police.

Officers are urging people to use the non-emergency number 101 and have released audio clips based on real-life situations in which terrified callers can’t get through because of time-wasters.

Ch Supt Pippa Mills said inappropriate use of the 999 number was a real threat to the public.

“This presents a real risk to our ability to respond to genuine emergency calls,” she said. “We also appreciate that every crime feels like an emergency to the victim, but the 999 number really must be reserved for situations where a crime is actually in progress or someone is in danger.

“Calling us on 101 does not change the police response you would get in a non-emergency situation and using the right number could literally save someone’s life.”

The strain on police has resulted in calls being answered, on average, in 11 seconds, with only 75pc answered in 10.

Other misuses of the 999 number included questions about a fox walking past a window, faulty headphones anda bird in a shop.

Police are asking people to report thefts at online at and victims of fraud to go to or call 0300 123 2040

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