999 is a number that everyone knows, children from a young age are taught to call 999 if there is an emergency, but do you know when you should call 101 instead? Every year the Police force receive millions of 999 calls, but often many of these calls weren’t emergency calls. This means that many calls are classified as ‘inappropriate use of 999’ and should have been directed to another agency. The police often get calls asking for taxi numbers, opening hours of the local convenience store and over Christmas one police force even had a call to 999 from someone reporting a queue jumper in the Santa Grotto. 101 or 999? Often when people panic they remember the 999 number and call it. The Police are there 24/7 365 days a year to help you, but if it’s identified as being a non-emergency then you may have to wait for another operator. The Police need to free up the 999 lines as there could be a life or death emergency waiting to get through. Advice for calling 999: • call when it’s an emergency • a crime is in progress • someone suspected of a crime is nearby • when there is danger to life • when violence is being used or threatened If you don’t need an emergency response, then you should call 101. This could be to report a crime or to seek advice, for example your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged or you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood. Use 101 for reporting: •-nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours •-vandalism, graffiti and fly-posters • street drinking •-environmental damage including littering, dumping of rubbish and abandonment of cars • prostitution related activity • begging and vagrancy • fireworks misuse •-inconsiderate or inapp-ropriate use of vehicles Calls to 101 incur a 15p charge but this is a flat fee for the entirety of the call [mobiles included]. Those who make hoax calls to emergency services are uselessly wasting vital services, and could be endangering the lives of others by diverting them from those in genuine need. All calls to the emergency services are recorded and they can always trace the number, even if the call is made from a withheld number. If you are found to be making a hoax call you could be fined or even sent to prison. Misuse of 999 and hoax calls are a criminal offence. You could face a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison or a fine of £5,000.