Non-emergency calls tie-up 911

(Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / daisydaisy)

London police are sounding the alarm about the number of non-emergency calls being made to 911.

Police estimate about a third of those dialling the emergency phone number aren’t doing so to report an actual emergency. Instead, 911 operators are frequently being told by callers “It’s not an emergency, but…,” or, “I tried calling the non-emergency number but I didn’t get a response so I’m calling you.”

“It is to the point where we are concerned that those with a real emergency are either not going to get through or will be delayed in getting through because someone has dialled 911 for an inappropriate issue,” said Staff Sergeant Mary Ellen Costea.

Figures released by police on Tuesday show their communications centre has received 171,510 calls to 911 over the first ten months of the year. That is a 10.8 per cent increase from the same time last year.

Anyone who witnesses a crime, knows of someone who has been injured or died, or is in danger should call 911 immediately. Those wanting to report a noise complaint, vandalism, theft from a vehicle, or traffic complaints are advised to call the non-emergency line at 519-661-5670.

“There are lots of amusing examples of calls that we receive that are clearly not an emergency but there is nothing funny about the fact that our 9-1-1 operators are dealing with a huge volume of calls that they should not be receiving in the first place,” said Costea.

A list of when a person should call 911 and when they should use the non-urgent phone number can be found on the police website or by clicking here.