Students from the University of Northampton have produced a series of videos for Northamptonshire Police which aim to stop people from dialling 999 unnecessarily.
In 2015, 70 per cent of calls made to Northamptonshire Police’s control room via the 999 number did not require a police response.
Time-wasters who dialled 999 reported a number of bizarre instances in 2015, including:
“My dog has caught a rat and won’t let it go”
“The kebab has lettuce in and I specifically asked not to have lettuce”
“I’ve run out of credit on my phone”
“I’ve got a wasp nest”
To address the problem, Northamptonshire Police tasked a group of Media Production undergraduates to produce videos to help provide information to people considering calling with non-emergencies.
A series of five videos were produced, and are now being hosted on the force’s Facebook page – you can watch two via the links below.
Supt Dennis Murray, who co-ordinated the initiative for Northamptonshire Police, said: “Northampton is the fastest-growing town in the country, so we are seeing an increase in demand for policing, but at the same time we are having to provide a service that is experiencing huge cuts in funding.
“It’s common for there to be around 1,000 incidents across the county in a day, and if there’s an accident on the motorway, we can get 200 to 300 calls in a few minutes. We have to answer a 999 call within 10 seconds, and manage to answer the majority within four seconds.
“When people dial 999 when they shouldn’t, it puts us under an even greater strain, and so we are hoping this initiative will help to educate such callers and change their behaviour, which will allow us to respond quickly to proper emergencies.”
Senior Video Lecturer at the University, Tim Coley, said: “We arrange numerous opportunities for our students to work on live briefs for industry, which helps us to prepare them for the working world – it is great to think this is the first which could actually save valuable police time.”
Student Jen Shonick said: “Before our visit to the police headquarters I didn’t realise how many people dialled 999 when they shouldn’t. It’s frightening to think that somebody could be on the line to the police to say, for example, their dog has gone missing, meaning somebody in a real emergency – such as being chased by a murderer – can’t get through.
“Hopefully the work we produced will help deter people from abusing the emergency number, help to free up police time and, you never know, could even save lives.”
The University was one of the first in the UK to award Policing degrees and enjoys a close relationship with Northamptonshire Police, which has recruited many Northampton graduates over the years.
In October 2015, the University was awarded Approved Supplier status from the College of Policing for the delivery of its Level 3 Certificate in the Knowledge of Policing.
The certificate, which students on the Policing BA (Hons) degree receive as an additional qualification upon graduation, is essential for those looking to successfully apply for an officer role with many of the UK’s police forces