Marmalade theft among 999 calls in the UK

A British police force has released audio recordings of prank callers reporting a marmalade theft and an Emmerdale plotline as it urged the public not to abuse the emergency 999 number.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) released the calls in the run-up to New Year’s Eve – their busiest time of the year.

Some of the examples of inappropriate calls made to GMP’s call handlers include the alleged theft of marmalade from a man’s bag, a dog following a woman into her house and a man calling to report that he saw a chicken walking down a road.

There have also been hoax calls made to the non-emergency 101 number which has included a call to report the killer involved in a recent Emmerdale storyline.

GMP’s call handlers receive an average 1,371 calls each day, and on New Year’s Eve last year this figure reached 3,016.

Diane Grandidge, GMP’s business lead for call handling, said: “Christmas and the New Year are the busiest times of the year for our call handling team. We receive thousands of emergency and non-emergency calls which is why we would urge those making silly prank calls or thoughtless requests to think twice. It is these thoughtless acts and deliberate jokes that can cost lives as that single action can have an impact on the swiftness of the police’s response to a real emergency.

“I would urge everyone to think carefully before dialling so that our call handlers can focus their efforts on real emergencies as they happen. You wouldn’t want your own call being delayed by a hoax so why have someone else’s?”

The hoaxer who reported the Emmerdale story gave his name as “Alan Sugar” and that he was reporting the murder of Carl King.

He said: “Chaz has been done for it right, but it was….what’s he called, Cameron… Cameron did it and Chaz is going to get sent down. I know she has got a bad haircut and all that, right, but she shouldn’t go to prison just for having a dodgy haircut should she?”

The call ends after the man is warned that he could be committing an offence.

For general inquiries or to report non-urgent crimes, people are asked to dial 101.

For example, if a car has been stolen, property damaged, to report a traffic collision or to give police information about crime.

The 101 number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is a single flat rate charge of 15p, no matter how long the call, the time of day or whether the call is made from a landline or mobile.

GMP said members of the public should still call their local council for issues relating to graffiti, abandoned vehicles, dumping, fly-tipping or vandalism.

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