Whether it’s a spider, a pigeon or an eagle in your house, West Yorkshire Police are reminding members of the public that it is not a matter for the police – and definitely not something that you should be phoning 999 about.
The Force has received 999 calls about all three animals in recent months, with call handlers’ time being diverted from real emergencies.
It’s not just inappropriate calls that are leading to significant demand on both the 999 and 101 services though and West Yorkshire Police are working to educate people about online alternatives for finding out information and reporting incidents.
The ‘click before you call’ section of the West Yorkshire Police website offers a number of ways to request information or contact the police online.
Tom Donohoe, Senior Contact Manager, said: “We appreciate that online options are not suitable for everyone, or for every situation, but for those people who are comfortable with this mode of contact it frees up capacity for those members of the public who would rather ring us.
"For many who have used our online alternatives, it has become their preferred method of contacting the police as it is a quick and easy way to beat the queues.
“We do tend to see an increase in calls to the police over the summer months and in anticipation of that we are taking the opportunity to remind people of other ways they can contact the police.
“Some of the calls we receive will be hoax or nuisance calls or calls which should be directed to other agencies such as the local council or RSPCA. While we do work to educate people and raise awareness of the impact of these calls on the service we can provide to those in real need, equally a lot of our demand comes from legitimate calls to the police but where there may be an online alternative available.
“We don’t want to deter anyone from calling us when they need to and would reiterate that in an emergency – where there is a threat to life or crime in progress – you should always call 999.”
Some of the examples where you can ‘click before you call’:
Local Crime Tracker
The Customer Contact Centre handles an average 2,800 101 calls a day. Around 20 per cent of these calls are from victims of crime looking for an update on their investigation or contact details for the officer investigating.
West Yorkshire Police introduced the Local Crime Tracker in 2014 which allows people to find out the status of their investigation by searching by their unique crime reference number. The tracker is due to be improved shortly with victims being able to request further information through the system which will tell them when the officer handling their investigation is next on shift.
The Force is also working hard on our commitment to keeping the public informed about their report.
101 Live Chat
Members of the public can have a two-way conversation with a member of the Customer Contact Centre team by using the 101 Live Chat system on the West Yorkshire Police website.
The benefit of using this system is that a Contact Centre Agent can provide assistance to a number of people at the same time, rather than being engaged on one phone line, and for quick queries, it is an ideal way to beat the queue.
Ask the Police
West Yorkshire Police has recently signed up to askthepolice.uk which offers answers to frequently asked questions to the police. Residents are urged wherever possible to check on the website or mobile app first to see if they can get an answer to their question without needing to contact the police.
Online crime reporting
While 101 can be used to report crimes, there are also options to report crimes on the West Yorkshire Police website. There are dedicated forms for reporting anti-social behaviour, nuisance bikes and hate crime. 999 should always be used to report a crime in progress or if there is a threat to life
West Yorkshire Community Alert
West Yorkshire Police launched a new messenger system ‘West Yorkshire Community Alert’ in May which enables members of the public to keep in touch with local police updates. People can sign up for updates from their NPT or Neighbourhood Watch contacts, or join a number of specialised community interest groups such as business watch, dog walkers, motorists or crime prevention.
To find out more about the online services provided by West Yorkshire Police, please visit their website here