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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 14:18 GMT
New line for non-emergency calls
Police control room
The new number will come into use in April
Tayside Police are aiming to cut the amount of minor or needless calls coming through on 999 by introducing a single non-emergency number.

The new 0845 number, to be introduced in April, will replace 16 separate non-emergency ones currently in use.

Police have received 999 calls recently asking when the pizza delivery shop shuts and from someone having trouble opening their car door in the wind.

It is also hoped the new system will provide a better service for callers.

Supt Kenny Sinclair said: "Tayside Police receives in the region of 30,000 non-emergency calls per month, which is averaging about 1,000 calls every day.

"It's important to us that the force is accessible to all these callers because it's very often their first time phoning the police."

If you phone it [999] casually in inappropriate circumstances, you could potentially be affecting a life elsewhere
Supt Kenny Sinclair
Tayside Police

Ch Insp Sandra Richards added: "Those 30,000 non-emergency calls that we get cover a wide range of things, and we try to prioritise the calls where people are actually asking for police assistance because a crime's been committed, or something serious is happening.

"People who phone the police, particularly if they're looking for police assistance, even in non-emergency matters, often find it difficult and distressing and they need to be addressed accurately and quickly."

Ms Richards added that people often phoned 999 because it was the first number that entered their head when thinking about the police.

However, she also blamed the rise in mobile phones and the fact 999 is a number which can be called for free if you do not have credit.

The new number will begin with 0845 and when people call they will be asked to choose from a menu of services.

Supt Sinclair said: "If you phone it [999] casually in inappropriate circumstances, you could potentially be affecting a life elsewhere, where somebody does need to get through in an emergency and can't get through."

In a genuine emergency people should continue to call 999.

Tayside Police have said that this could be the first step towards a single new non-emergency number being introduced across Scotland.

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31 Jan 08 |  South West Wales

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