Broken boilers, peacock sightings and a dog barking at a cat are just some of the inappropriate reasons people have recently contacted police in Cambridgeshire.
From April to the end of June this year the constabulary has received 32,155 calls to 999 and 86,621 to 101.
With this huge demand, police are urging people to only call 999 in a genuine emergency. For non-emergency situations people can call 101 or visit the constabulary’s website to make reports or provide intelligence.
The constabulary regularly receives calls that should be directed to other organisations such as local authorities or the RSPCA.
Other examples of inappropriate contact since April include children making hoax calls, a report about a dead bird and a complaint about the smell of a neighbour’s wheelie bin.
A scenario-based Twitter poll on the constabulary’s account resulted in only 19% of people selecting the correct number to call.
People should dial 999 if there is immediate danger, a crime is in progress or the offenders are still at the scene.
Superintendent Martin Brunning, head of public contact, said: “It is vital that people only dial 999 in a genuine emergency.
In a worst case scenario inappropriate calls could put lives at risk by causing a delay in us speaking to people in danger.
“It isn’t that we don’t want to hear from the public, but we need to ensure that the right response is given as soon as possible to the people who really need us.
“We’re urging people to think carefully about whether to call 999, 101 or another organisation if the issue isn’t a policing matter.
“If people would prefer to report non-emergency situations online then this can be done on our website via a form or a live web chat function.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “The public need to feel able to contact the police and it is essential they are not deterred from doing so if there is a genuine reason.
“However, it is also important people contact the correct number in the circumstances they face.
The call handlers do a fantastic job under what can be extremely challenging circumstances.
Dialling the correct number helps officers to reach the people in most need as efficiently as possible.
“In non-emergency situations I would encourage people to think about whether the matter is something to be directed to the police or whether it is more appropriate to contact another organisation.
“I’m pleased that in the modern world the constabulary has invested in tools for people to report non-emergency situations or provide intelligence online if they would prefer to use this method.”
A campaign across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire has urged people to #ClickB4UCall.
Some 101 calls are a request for information that can be found on the constabulary’s website.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the online reporting and webchat facilities.