Posted: Sat 28th Mar 2020

Police urge public to keep 999 calls for real emergencies

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Mar 28th, 2020

Police are urging people to use their services wisely and help keep the 999 lines free for emergencies only.

As the Coronavirus epidemic develops and with the introduction of stricter restriction on peoples movements nationally, North Wales Police has seen a “significant increase” in the amount of calls received over the last week.

Control room staff are dealing with a large number of 999 calls unrelated to police or are ‘non-urgent’ which is impacting the force’s ability to deal with genuine calls and is “putting people’s lives at risk.”

Superintendent Neil Thomas, who is in charge of the Force’s Control Room in St Asaph said:

“This week has been another challenging one for North Wales Police with a surge of public calls into the control room from people trying to seek clarification on various issues related to the coronavirus.

Whilst I appreciate that people are calling us in good faith, these calls are dealt with by emergency call handlers who are already working on high demand and reduced staffing levels.

I would like to emphasise that we have well-rehearsed plans in place to ensure that we continue to provide a service the public.

However, unnecessary calls into the control room is having a significant impact on our ability to deal with genuine calls and is putting people’s lives at risk. Please only call the police when necessary and do not revert to dialling 999 if we are unable to answer your 101 calls or webchat.

Supt Thomas said, the volume of calls has grown significantly and, “there has been a large increase in the amount of people contacting us via live webchat and emails. I want to encourage people to continue using the live webchat and email functions for non-urgent police matters.

Thank you to everyone who has been doing this already in an effort to reduce the demand on our emergency call handlers, who are already working extremely hard to continue to support our response to incidents.”

Police say they have seen an increase in the number of reports being made relating to potential breaches of Government guidelines on social distancing and isolation.

Supt Thomas said: “Our initial approach will be to engage with people who are found not abiding to the guidelines before explaining why these rules are important and encouraging them to follow them. If they are not compliant, then as a last resort we will enforce the emergency legislation brought in this week where necessary.”

Supt Thomas added: “We are urging the public that if they are seeking advice around COVID-19 and what it means for them, they should refer themselves to the UK Government, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales websites for information and guidance.

 This will enable our call takers and officers to focus purely on policing matters and ensure resources are being utilised effectively.”

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