Head of the Force Control Room, Wayne Humberstone, says there are still too many “myths and misunderstandings” about when to use which number, even though the system has been in operation since 2012.
He emphasised 999 is for emergency calls ONLY. Each year the force fields an incredible 110,000 of them – most of which are answered within 10 seconds by highly trained call handlers. Emergencies are things like:
>Someone is at immediate risk of harm or injury, the offence is still happening, or the offender is still at the scene.
The 101 number acts as a gateway into all other Bedfordshire Police services and callers are greeted with an automated switchboard. The force takes around 330,000 101 calls a year the vast majority of which are answered in 30 seconds. It should be used in non-emergency circumstances like:
>To speak to a specific perso n or department, or give information about crime in an area, where there is suspicion of drug use or dealing, acar theft or criminal damage overnight, anti-social behaviour or to report a minor traffic collision
One of the busiest departments is the Crime Bureau which takes no less than 50,000 calls a year on all sorts of common “volume” crimes such as criminal damage and burglaries from outbuildings.
Mr Humberstone said: “We have had several spikes in calls in recent months and the public can help us by thinking carefully about which number to call.
“999 is for real emergencies – something where public safety is at immediate risk, where a crime is in progress or the offender is still there presenting a danger and/or an opportunity for us to arrest them
“101 is for absolutely everything else, from crime you have just come across like a shed break-in – or because you need to speak to a department, such as our Custody suite.”
>Further information on contacting Bedfordshire Police is available via the force website.