A South Yorkshire woman called 999 to ask emergency services to find her daughter’s pet hamster which had got out of its cage, police have revealed.
The mum, one of many timewasters highlighted in a report, told how her daughter’s hamster got stuck under the floorboards.
A man phoned police to report a hair in his dinner and a punter who’d been told to pipe down at the bingo are among other time-wasters who dialled 999 in South Yorkshire in the last two months alone.
A staggering one in three of all calls received on the emergency number should never have been made in the first place, South Yorkshire Police say.
And every single Friday and Saturday night, 999 operators receive calls from at least two revellers who have run out of credit on their mobile phones and want a taxi home.
Today Tracy Potter, operations manager for the police’s Atlas Court communications base at Attercliffe, said: “The message we want to get across is it could be your relative that’s trying to get through to report a real crime, a real assault, a real incident.
“That call will be waiting longer to be answered because we’re having to deal with someone wasting our time.”
On July 2 police answered a 999 call from a man in Rotherham who said he’d been told to shut up at Mecca bingo.
“He wasn’t happy because he’d been asked to quieten down - and the bingo caller was reading the numbers out too fast,” said Tracy.
A month earlier, on June 9, another man dialled 999 from a restaurant in Sheffield to report he’d found a hair in his chicken.
“And every single Friday and Saturday night we receive at least two or three calls from people who are out in town, have run out of credit on their mobile phones, and want us to get them a taxi home,” said Tracy.
“That happens every single weekend without fail.”
One woman called because she couldn’t find the film she wanted on Sky TV.
Another woman dialled 999 and begged police for more than a minute to rid her bin of maggots fearing her neighbours were about to ‘turn against’ her.
But inappropriate calls to 999 are not always from misguided, or drunk, callers.
“It’s a real mix of people, and they’re not always young,” said Tracy.
“And the figures don’t take into account the ones we get from genuine callers who shouldn’t really be ringing 999, but whose calls we will take anyway. The elderly person who has limited experience of needing the police, for example, but who has come home to find their property has been burgled, will ring 999 when really they should call 101.
“Of course we will take that call and help with it.”
One time-wasting call was from a South Yorkshire mother who asked police to tell off her son for not eating his breakfast, and another whose son’s toy helicopter had crashed on a nearby roof.
A man dialled 999 asking for an ambulance because he needed ‘some pregnancy pills’.
And one woman rang 999 because she’d been waiting to park for 10 minutes when another motorist took ‘her’ space.
South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said persistent time-wasters will be prosecuted.
“The 999 service gets tens of thousands of calls every year and inappropriate use of the number wastes a huge amount of resources at a time we’re trying to make savings,” he said.