‘People dial 999 without a second thought’

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Is charging a premium rate for 999 calls as ridiculous as the reaction to the idea today 
suggests?

Stop to consider for a moment the day-to-day reality of the current system for Lothian and Borders Police.

Every year they handle around 120,000 supposedly emergency calls – yet less than one in five results in an emergency call-out.

Many of the 80-odd per cent of calls that don’t lead to an emergency call-out are no doubt well-
intentioned.

But the fact remains that this is a service – like the emergency departments in our local hospitals – which is swamped because people all too often use it without a second thought.

Of course levying any charge on such a lifeline service is a bad idea. As others have said today, if one person is put off calling in a genuine emergency because of the charge, then that is one person too many.

We suspect, however, that senior Police Federation official David Hamilton, who sparked today’s brouhaha, is probably playing a canny game.

The chances of police chiefs and politicians taking up the idea are just as miniscule now as they were yesterday – but we are all talking about a genuine problem and how a little more common sense might ease the pressure on one of our most valued public services.

Community game

It is easy to get angry or upset by the behaviour of a minority of our footballl fans. Offensive chants, spitting at ballboys, ripping up seats. None of this is acceptable.

The truth, however, is that the majority of supporters are decent people who abhor the extremes of behaviour we regularly see at the weekend and at last night’s Edinburgh derby.

Our feature today on the Big Hearts Community Trust, tells how a charity linked with the club have helped 13,000 people in the last year. Across the city, Hibs have similar initiatives which do fantastic work with young people and those in need, much of it behind the scenes and out of the public spotlight.

Football has become a sport we associate with astronomical wages, diving to gain advantage and in the case of our national team, annual failure.

But at its core it remains a game rooted in the community and with the ability to produce positive outcomes for many. Both our Edinburgh clubs and the volunteers who lead it should be proud of their community work over many years.