"My budgies escaped" and other reasons not to call the police

(Last Updated On: December 30, 2014)

Devon and Cornwall Police are asking people to think before they dial 999 or 101 and  and to only do so in an emergency or to report a non-urgent crime.

The Force’s two contact centres in Plymouth and Exeter receive more than a million calls a year. Although many people use the service responsibly there are still a significant number who, whether through ignorance or impatience, waste police time and also increase call waiting times for genuine callers.

Over the last couple of weeks Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, head of Operations, has been tweeting some examples of completely inappropriate calls received via the Force’s non-emergency 101 number.

Members of the public have rung in to:

  • Report that their budgie had escaped and was in a tree, and could police get it.
  • Complain that some public toilets were closed.
  • Ask if it was illegal to urinate in their own garden – if spotted by a drone.
  • To complain about the diagnosis given by a Doctor.
  • To state their DVD player was not working properly.

Chief Superintendent Nye said: “Clearly none of these are police matters. While these examples may raise a smile they are unacceptable uses of the 101 service and underline an issue which is increasing call waiting times for callers who genuinely need help.

“Over the next 12 months we will be introducing new technology, new systems of working and additional staff to our contact centres to reduce call waiting and deployment times.

“We’ll also be producing materials online and in print about when it is appropriate for the public to call the police and when it is not, and when another agency is the most appropriate to get in touch with.”

Other situations when the police are not the best people to call in a non-emergency situation include noisy neighbours, abandoned vehicles, parking issues and dangerous dogs. A full range of contact information can be found on the Devon and Cornwall Police website at www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/contact

Chief Superintendent Nye added: “The public may also be unaware that it is perfectly appropriate in a non-emergency situation to email:101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk

“Information received this way is treated in exactly the same way as a call to 101, and it is the way we would prefer to receive questions about policing matters in our area and requests for advice.”

The Devon and Cornwall Police website already also contains online reporting forms which can be used for a range of issues including lost and found property and for making a complaint.

You can follow Ch Supt Nye via @DCOpsCdrJimNye and he will be tweeting further examples under the hashtag #appropriateuseof999101


Team account for We Are South Devon.