A non-emergency police hotline trialled in South Yorkshire has been rolled out across the UK.
The Home Office announced the national launch of the 101 number, intended to ease pressure on the 999 emergency number, after thousands of people rang the new number in South Yorkshire within the first two months it was on use.
The memorable 101 number was introduced by South Yorkshire Police last November and attracted 43 per cent of the non-emergency calls to the force during the following month.
The Christmas period is one of the busiest times of the year for police control rooms, and South Yorkshire Police received 16,756 emergency 999 calls and 61,350 non-emergency calls to 101 during December.
Supt Adrian Moran, head of communications at South Yorkshire Police, urged people to call 101 in non-emergency cases, adding: “The 101 number has been welcomed in South Yorkshire.
“Some of the blatantly inappropriate calls the police receive may seem amusing, but the callers are clearly misusing the 999 facility.
“By using 999 for non-police or non-emergency matters you are slowing down the response to genuine emergencies, tying up an operator and could be placing the lives of others at risk.
He added: “Phoning 999 for non-urgent matters will not result in an enhanced service to the caller, who will be requested to ring back on the 101 non-emergency number or advised accordingly if their call is not a police matter.”
Approximately two thirds of the 999 calls received by South Yorkshire Police are not genuine emergencies. One such call received on Christmas Day was from a caller seeking police assistance to retrieve a remote-controlled helicopter from the roof of a local shop after their son had lost control of the new toy.
Other recent inappropriate calls have been to report cold kebabs, a lost kitten and a broken video recorder.
For more information on 101 in South Yorkshire, visit www.southyorkshire.police.uk/101.