The 999 calls that are beyond a joke

Operators at the Bilston Glen command centre received some ludicrous complaints. Picture: Toby Williams
Operators at the Bilston Glen command centre received some ludicrous complaints. Picture: Toby Williams
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Most teenagers complain about being grounded by their fed-up parents by moaning to friends or posting on social media.

But one 16-year-old from the Capital took it to the extreme by dialling 999 to report that her mum was not letting her leave the house.

The huffy Vicky Pollard-like complaint is among a raft of trivial and time-wasting reports which long-suffering emergency call operators at Bilston Glen command centre, in Midlothian, have had to put up with in the last year.

On another occasion, a woman repeatedly called 999 because her taxi driver would not take her into Waverley station.

She ranted that she wanted to be taken directly into the train station, despite the taxi driver insisting that the terminal had a blanket ban on traffic.

And in another case, a man rang the emergency line claiming he was trapped in a phonebox surrounded by a group of men who were threatening him.

He claimed he feared for his safety, but the emergency operator could see the location on CCTV – and there was nobody else there.

Officers attended the scene as a precaution, but it turned out that the man had made up the scenario to try to get a lift home in a police car.

In yet another bizarre call, someone phoned 999 to report that their neighbour was snoring loudly.

These examples raise a smile, but police in Edinburgh and the Lothians are keen to spread a serious message.

The festive season is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the 999 emergency line, and Police Scotland Superintendent Linda Ormiston is urging people to use the system sensibly.

Operators at the East Command Area Control room at Bilston Glen handle between 350 and 400 emergency 999 calls a day. Each call picked up at the control room lasts approximately three minutes.

Supt Ormiston, from Police Scotland’s Contact, Command and Control Division, said: “The Area Control Room deals with a high volume of calls each day, many of which require an urgent police response. Calls that do not relate to policing matters can often delay call handlers in responding to more serious incidents and can potentially result in police resources being delayed when responding to urgent incidents.”

She added: “Anyone with an emergency that requires an immediate police response should always dial 999.

“Those who require a non-immediate police response but still need to speak with police should utilise [non-emergency number] 101.

“The public may also wish to visit, where the answers to many general queries relating to Police Scotland can be found.”