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Help, my husband's wallet is missing! Time-wasting 999 callers 'are 'putting lives at risk'

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A parrot stuck in a tree and a lost cigarette lighter were among some of the inappropriate 999 calls received by the police in Leicestershire in 2012.

About one in 10 of the 999 calls received by police operators were not emergencies at all.

One woman called up to ask if anyone had handed in her husband's wallet, while another person complained they were not happy with the way their car had been serviced at a local garage.

The calls slow down the process of getting police officers to people in dire need of emergency assistance.

Superintendent Adam Streets, head of the call management centre at Leicestershire Police headquarters, said: "It's important for people to remember that 999 is for life or death emergencies and that for everything else you should call your local police on 101.

"While we would never turn a caller away, people should be aware that in making an inappropriate 999 call, they are tying up emergency resources and putting the lives of others at risk."

East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) have also been experiencing plenty of non-emergency calls going through to their 999 operator.

Their examples from 2012 include someone who thought they had sprained their ankle the night before, someone wanting a lift to a routine hospital appointment and a bizarre call from someone with a "bad foot" who refused to go into any more detail.

GPs, walk-in centres, patient transport services and NHS Direct were more suitable contact points.

Emas service delivery manager Michael Jones said: "An ambulance travelling to get to someone who does not need help is one which is not available for someone who is in a real life-threatening condition."

He said they had received calls from people who clearly didn't understand the risk they were putting other people in by making this type of call.

In past years, some of the daftest 999 calls to police have included a man calling 999 to complain his shower was not working, a woman needing a lift to the bank and a boy claiming his mum was torturing him by buying Jaffa Cakes, which he didn't like.

The ambulance service has had "emergency calls" for broken fingernails and paper cuts, while another person sought help because they could not work their television.

Meanwhile, someone else called asking how to put batteries in a remote control.

Last year, Emas prosecuted a man for hoax 999 calls. He was given a suspended jail term and a three-year Asbo.

People with non-life-threatening health issues can call NHS Direct on 0845 4647, or visit: www.nhs.uk

Help, my husband's wallet is missing! Time-wasting 999 callers 'are 'putting lives at risk'


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