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Thames Valley Police ask public to think before calling 999

A report of a rotten chicken bought from a supermarket was one of many inappropriate 999 ‘emergency’ calls received by police this year.

Thames Valley Police has appealed to the public to consider if someone’s life is in danger or if a crime is in progress before dialling 999.

Inappropriate use of 999 can delay emergency services responding to those who need help immediately.

In non-emergency situations, you should call the police on 101, or report a crime online at

Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt said: “In an emergency situation, every second counts, and ultimately using 999 to ask to speak to an officer or to report a crime that took place a few days ago, could delay police responding to someone who is in desperate need of help.

“I would like to ask members of the public to think before you dial. Is a life in danger? Is a crime in progress? If both answers are no, then please use our 24-hour non-emergency number 101, or contact us online.”

In audio clips released by Thames Valley Police of 999 calls from July and August, one caller reports that he has bought a rotten chicken from a supermarket, and asks if the police will take it away if he gives them petrol money.

In another call, a woman calls 999 to tell the police that she was worried about the health condition of a dog – something the RSPCA should be contacted about.

Staff at Thames Valley Police manage the 101 phone lines 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The call handlers are trained to record crimes and send police officers when necessary and will monitor reports made online, actioning them all within four hours of receiving them.


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