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'Help, police – I've run out of toilet roll'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

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Running out of toilet roll and difficulty ringing a Chinese takeaway were just some of the frivolous calls that clogged up 999 police lines this year.

Emergency call handlers in Devon and Cornwall are urging the public not to dial 999 unless it is a real emergency.

Operators have released a flavour of some of the idiotic enquiries they have had to bat away to allow genuinely urgent calls to get through.

One entry on the police log read: "Just received a 999 call from a male saying 'I have run out of toilet roll'."

A caller ringing on Christmas Day just after 7am wanted to know if officers would drive him home. According to records the call was "received from sober-sounding male outside Exeter police station asking for a lift back to Crediton".

Naturally, officers told the man politely the answer was 'No'.

But undeterred, the caller went on to explain he had spent all of his money and due to it being Christmas was struggling to get home.

About a month ago one operator took a 999 call from a woman who explained she had been trying to contact her local Chinese takeaway but found they were not answering.

She said she had dialled 999 to ask the operator if he or she knew if the takeaway had closed down or moved premises. The woman finished off the call by stating she had no concerns for the people running the business, she just wanted some food.

Devon and Cornwall Police call handlers are highly trained to deal efficiently with emergency situations and tackle thousands of 999 calls a year.

A police spokesman said fatal consequences could result from reckless or irresponsible use of the emergency 999 telephone.

He said: "We would urge people to think carefully before calling 999.The number is there for a reason."

"If life is at risk or offenders are nearby then the 999 number should be used."

Read more from Western Morning News

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  • JJLee  |  January 07 2013, 10:19AM

    Fully agree with others ringing the police is a waste of time these days

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  • Corsham999  |  January 04 2013, 2:33PM

    If you saw someone say setting light to a car or a shed would it be a waste of time and effort from everyone concerned if you rang 999 to report it? What would happen even if the scumbags were caught by the police the CPS would let them off so why bother in the first place.

    |   -2
  • PL1Plym  |  January 04 2013, 2:06PM

    The very first time I dialed 999 was when witnessing someone trying to break into a car. I was amazed how slow the process was! They got in and managed to sell the goods before I got through. The second time was just to check my pizza was on the way!

    |   -6
  • xamyamyamyx  |  January 04 2013, 1:17PM

    112 is the international number however if you are making a 999 call and dont know your location - ie bodmin moor somewhere - you are advised to use this number as they can locate your position quicker. I learnt this as a home carer.

    |   1
  • oldjamaica  |  January 04 2013, 12:27PM

    i always thought that 999 calls could be traced and those misusing them could and would be charged with wasting police time.

    |   7
  • spindles12  |  January 04 2013, 8:52AM

    bikerlad707, I think you'll find that 112 is the European Emergency Number, so not to be used for a no toilet paper incident. For non-emergency calls the number is 101 which is still not to be used for a no toilet paper incident.

    |   12
  • bikerlad707  |  January 04 2013, 6:19AM

    thats even more reason to change over from 999 to the new number 112 . it can be traced back & pinpointed were the caller is . just a thought !!

    |   8
  • gogirl1  |  January 03 2013, 11:18PM

    Well if that's the phone calls they have had this year so far and we are only on day 3, I'm sure there will be a lot more to come

    |   6
  • olddogbreath  |  January 03 2013, 6:45PM

    I really would like to hear the actual call. Is someone at the Herald just making stuff up for a bit of fun with us. It's 3 months until April fool's day

    |   7
  • HughGarsse  |  January 03 2013, 6:27PM

    Have you tried dialing 999 with a real emergency, they are not interested in those either. To busy chatting to the press or fabricating stories about people calling them plebs. 'Riots in London, hold the line, all our police officers are busy at the moment but we will try and respond within 3 days, thank you for calling'.

    |   -29