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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005, 11:30 GMT
999 caller wanted cooking advice
Cooked chicken
A caller dialled 999 for advice on cooking a chicken
A caller dialled 999 to ask Gwent Police if it was safe to put a chicken in the oven overnight.

It was one of many petty queries that has led to an increase of 33% in emergency calls in three years.

Senior officers are now urging people to think carefully before dialling 999 and to use alternative numbers if it is not urgent.

Each month operators at the force's call centre are dealing with an average of 8,000 999 calls.

Chief inspector Heather Jones, who is in charge of Gwent Police's communication suite, said bogus 999 calls tied-up lines that may be needed for a genuine emergency.

"The force is busier than ever and because our staff are well trained they are able to deal with all calls effectively.

999 calls made to Gwent Police:
Is it safe to cook a chicken in the oven overnight?
I've lost my coat in my house
There are rabbits on the my lawn - can you move them?
There is a dog panting under a tree - it looks as if it needs water
Someone has damaged my garden gnomes

"However, I would urge members of the public to be mindful that operators need to answer and deal with calls accurately and quickly in order to free the line up as there may well be a genuine emergency happening elsewhere across Gwent.

"We receive many calls as a result of young children playing with mobile phones.

"Numerous calls are also made to report untaxed cars and when told that these are not emergency calls, the callers have responded by saying they have no credit left on their mobile phones so used the 999 system instead.

"I also want to reiterate that when people want to get in touch with their local police station they should not be dialling 999."

She said people should phone the call centre number instead.

"Their call will be answered as quickly as possible, likewise if they are in an emergency situation, the 999 number should be called and will be dealt with promptly."

The Gwent Police call centre number is 01633 838111.

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