Police warn nuisance calls put lives at risk

999 calls to emergency services included a complaint about a woman feeding bacon to a cat
999 calls to emergency services included a complaint about a woman feeding bacon to a cat

A man who wanted his girlfriend and his cat arrested and a woman seeking help changing a light bulb are among the nuisance callers to West Yorkshire Police over the last three years.

Other nuisance calls included people asking for bus timetables and help removing a spider from their bath.

But the police are warning the public that nuisance calls can cost lives after figures revealed there were 976 nuisance or hoax calls in Calderdale over the last three years.

Tom Donohoe, Customer Contact Centre Manager at the police headquarters in Wakefield, said: “During the summer we had a lot of humid weather and that resulted in a huge amount of sizeable spiders popping up.

“We had between tens and hundreds of calls from people wanting us to get a spider out of the bath or the living room.

“Another one was somebody complaining his girlfriend had allowed their cat to eat his bacon.

“When the operative asked what he wanted us to do, he said arrest his girlfriend and his cat.”

Mr Donohoe stressed there are serious consequences of nuisance calls, which he said can mean real emergencies take longer to deal with.

“They take anything from five to 10 minutes, which is a significant amount of time to us,” he said.

“We have a 97 per cent customer satisfaction rate because we handle every call professionally as they could be ringing back with an emergency and we don’t want them to feel uncomfortable about doing that.

“But if we’ve got somebody hogging the line with rubbish they’re just pushing somebody further down the queue.

“The potential is we don’t get to the emergency as quickly so they’re putting other people’s lives at risk.”

The police are keen to differentiate between nuisance calls, usually from people mistakenly believing they have a genuine emergency, and hoax calls, which are more deliberate and can divert the police’s time and resources from genuine emergencies.

Mr Donohoe added: “Recently we had a hoax caller who rang us 97 times in two hours - they had us on speed dial.

“We have prosecuted repeat offenders. We pursue them vigorously.”