Less than 1 in 5 - 999 calls to Surrey Police are genuine emergencies
26th July 2012
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BOOKING an appointment to meet a local officer is top of the inappropriate calls blocking up Surrey Police's emergency line. 

The force's 999 number received more than 30,000 non-emergency calls from December 2011 to May 2012, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

 Appointments and road-closure inquiries made up 27,649 of the calls, with 3,503 of these from Reigate and Banstead borough. The remainder were hoaxes. Less than a fifth of calls required an emergency response from police.

 Superintendent Sue Lampard said: "999 should only be used in a real emergency – when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby or where someone is injured, being threatened or in danger.

"On average, the Surrey Police contact centre receives 361 emergency calls a day but only about 19 per cent of those require an emergency response from the police."

While officers stress the public should get in touch, they say it is vital people call the correct number – 101 – in a non-emergency.

Surrey Police Federation chairman Kieran Diamond said: "If there is a car crash on the motorway, the calls can be in the hundreds. The last thing you want then is a non-emergency call."

Actual hoax calls to police were far lower, with 2,380 received from across Surrey and around a fifth of those, 450, from Reigate and Banstead borough.

Although many of the calls police classify as hoaxes come from people with mental health issues who make repeat calls, Supt Lampard said the force will prosecute those who willingly waste police time.

She added: "Hoax callers put other members of the public at risk by tying up emergency services when they could be helping people who really need them, and in the past we have issued acceptable behaviour contracts or prosecuted people for misusing the emergency system."

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