West Yorkshire: 'Help police! My dog won't stop snoring'

How do I stop my dog from snoring?

It might be a reasonable poser to put to a fellow pet lover or a vet.

But it's hardly an appropriate question for a 999 police operator.

However, it was one of the many irresponsible calls received by 999 West Yorkshire Police which not only wasted police time but potentially put the life of a genuine caller in danger.

Another example of the abuse of the 999 telephone lines across the county was: "What should I do, a cat has got into my house?" Another caller asked: "There is a dead pigeon in my garden, what can you do about it, please?"

A broken domestic freezer still under warranty was another reason someone rang 999, which should be used for emergencies only.

Then there was the "very important" case of the packet of rice missing from a cupboard and the man who telephoned for advice on a mobile phone contract.

The foolishness of such callers is only exceeded by those who deliberately make hoax 999 calls to the West Yorkshire force which are running at an average total of 6,000 a year.

It means that out of 1,000 emergency calls received daily, at least 16 on average are deliberate inventions.

And while 1.6 per cent might seem a small proportion, if you are one of the people whose genuine emergency situation receives a delayed response due to a hoaxer you might think differently.

Chief Insp Michael Quirk, of the communications division, said: "These calls are so ridiculous it's astonishing listening to them but they hide a serious truth.

"Each call often takes minutes to deal with as our staff have to clarify the situation – it might not sound like much but if someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency then a minute is a very long time to wait.

"I cannot stress enough that the 999 number is for emergencies only."

An emergency is defined as when there is likely to be:

* A danger to life;

* The use, or immediate threat of violence;

* Serious injury to a person;

* Serious damage to property."

Emergency-graded incidents will result in an immediate response and it is imperative the West Yorkshire Police are in a position to receive the call and dispatch appropriate resources without delay, he said.

"Demand for our services often increases when we have issues such as the recent heavy snow fall to contend with."

"With more snow forecast and the festive season it is more important than ever that we are able to deal with emergencies as quickly as possible and not have our time taken up with silly calls."

Chief Inspector Quirk, added: "Rest assured we will pursue those involved in malicious calls with vigour until they are brought to justice. The punishment for wasting police time can be six months

imprisonment."

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