A sleep-deprived husband called 999 on his wife because she was snoring so loudly. West Midlands Police (WMP) shared the unbelievable audio online to urge people to leave the emergency line for real emergencies. After all, the clue is in the name.
The tired husband is heard saying his wife sounds like a ‘motorbike’ and he ‘doesn’t know what to do’. To which the call handler, with breathtaking patience, says ‘this isn’t a police matter’ and told him to seek medical advice when his wife wakes up.
WMP has been forced to start campaigning after receiving the highest daily total of 999 calls in its history. On Saturday, July 7, call handlers received 3,276 calls, a 40% increase on the 24-hour average.
Just last weekend, WMP received 5,056 emergency calls, spiking at around 1.30am on Saturday when almost 50 were taken inside 15 minutes.
Some of these recent calls included people reporting on an injured duck on the canal network, the earlier mentioned snorer, and a teenager asking a call handler to contact his mum as he had run out of phone credit.
Call handler Olivia said: ‘It’s constant at the moment – the highest demand I’ve ever seen – and I’d say I’m answering up to 50 calls a day. ‘There can at times be tens of calls in the queue on the 101 number and that’s why we’d advise people to go online.
‘It’s a pressurised job but really varied. You’re always on your toes as you never know who you’ll pick up the phone to next.’ Olivia added: ‘I once spoke to a nine-year-old girl who called to say she was being abused by her stepdad.
‘She was really brave and gave a very articulate account of what was happening, which of course helps the investigation team. ‘And another time I was on the phone to a man who’d suffered a cardiac arrest. ‘I alerted ambulance colleagues and kept him talking but he died moments later.
I just hope I was able to offer him some comfort.’ Lyndsey Swallow, head of contact handling at WMP, said: ‘The 999 service is precious. It should be reserved for emergency incidents, when people are in danger, or to report crimes in progress.
‘We’re here to help and protect the public – but sometimes we can’t get to people as quickly as we’d like because lines are being clogged up with less serious issues or things that couldn’t possibly be considered a police matter. ‘If it’s not an emergency then people can call us on the 101 number.
But many of the queries we get on that number could be satisfied with a simple internet search. ‘WMP Online now has a wealth of information and advice on a range of issues and should be a first port of call for people if their call isn’t urgent. ‘Lower level crimes like thefts and criminal damage can now be reported online as well.’