Warning over abandoned 999 calls to Police Scotland at Christmas

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
People trying out new phones and children playing with devices could be responsible for the surge in accidental calls

Staff at Police Scotland control centres dealt with more than 800 abandoned 999 calls over Christmas.

The force said people who got a new mobile as a gift and children playing with their parents' phones could be to blame for the accidental calls.

It said they placed added pressure on police as each call had to be investigated.

The force advised those who do accidentally dial 999 to explain what they have done rather than hang up.

More than half a million 999 calls are received by Police Scotland every year.

Between 06:00 GMT on Christmas Day and the same time on 27 December, staff handled at total of 807 emergency calls where the caller hung up without providing information.

Image caption,
Police call handlers must investigate abandoned 999 calls

Children being given their parents's phones, people trying out new devices they got for Christmas, as well as phones being put away in pockets and handbags without the screen being locked, were thought to be the main sources of the "dropped" calls.

Ch Supt Roddy Newbigging said: "We appreciate accidents happen, that children can hit buttons and not understand the consequences, but the impact of hundreds of dropped 999 calls a day adds up.

"Each 999 call has to be investigated to ensure the safety of the caller. That ranges from cross-referencing the number on our systems to see if there have been previous calls, to calling back the number.

"This all takes up time which could be spent handling genuine emergency situations and helping people in times of real distress.

He added: "Our advice is simple - if you call 999 by accident and the call is answered, please explain what's happened.

"It'll only take a few seconds and will enable the call to be cleared with no issues."

Police Scotland plans to publish figures for how many abandoned 999 calls it receives over the next few days on its social media channels in order to highlight the issue.

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