Police are reminding the public to think twice before they pick up the phone as call handlers prepare for a busy shift this New Year’s Eve.
Last year, New Year’s Eve saw a spike in the number of calls for service to the Northumbria Police control room, with more than 1,400 people contacting police.
It creates a huge demand on the staff working in the communications centre who often have to deal with non-police matters instead of genuine emergencies.
Last year some of the calls to 101 and 999 included people complaining they couldn’t find a taxi home while others called to thank police for keeping them safe over New Year.
Now, police have asked the public to consider reporting non-emergency incidents online – and to only call 999 if they need urgent assistance from police.
Superintendent Paul Stewart, of the Communications Department, said: “This is one of the busiest nights of the year for our control handlers and historically we always see a spike in calls to police.
“We put plans in place to try to manage that demand but we do want to ask the public to help us by only calling us if they need urgent police assistance.
“The last thing we want is for people to have to wait on the phone to speak to one of our call handlers and so we would encourage you to look at our website before calling.
“There you will find other numbers for agencies who may be more appropriate to deal with your query. You will also find an online reporting form where you can submit a crime report without having to call us.
“It is always great to receive positive feedback but we would ask that people send us a tweet or write us a letter rather than call 101 or 999.”
Superintendent Stewart added: “Hundreds of calls come into our communications centres every day and we want to be able to deliver an outstanding service to everyone who gets in touch.
“We hope that the public can work with us so that we can make sure those people unfortunate enough to be involved in serious incidents can receive police assistance as quickly as possible.”
Northumbria Police receives around one million calls to the non-emergency number every year but roughly 15 per cent of those are about non-police matters.
For more information on what matters the police can deal with, and to report an incident online, visit http://www.northumbria.police.uk/contact
If the incident is not an emergency, consider using the website before calling 101 - a number that should only be used for non-emergencies.