Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 11:24 UK

Police say UFO was just the Moon

The Moon

Police called out to a 999 call about an unexplained object in the night sky solved the mystery straight away for their operator - "it's the Moon, over."

But the emergency call meant the officers were sent out to a house in the valleys area of south Wales.

They were told a "bright stationary object" was spotted above the unnamed caller's home.

A recording of the call has been released as part of a police campaign asking people to use 999 appropriately.

The Control Room conversation, which took place in May, was recorded - and below is a transcript:

Control Room: "South Wales Police, what's your emergency?"

Caller: "It's not really. I just need to inform you that across the mountain there's a bright stationary object."

Control room: "Right."

Caller: "If you've got a couple of minutes perhaps you could find out what it is? It's been there at least half an hour and it's still there."

Control: "It's been there for half an hour. Right. Is it actually on the mountain or in the sky?"

Caller: "It's in the air."

Control: "I will send someone up there now to check it out."

Caller: "OK."

The mystery was soon solved, as the exchange between control and an officer at the scene, makes clear.

Control: "Alpha Zulu 20, this object in the sky, did anyone have a look at it?"

Officer: "Yes, it's the moon. Over."

Control room staff also dealt with a stream of unsuitable calls on the 999 number during an "extremely busy period", said a spokesman.

Another caller rang asking for help when they wanted to vote for Rhydian on the TV programme X-Factor.

'Real emergencies'

Another wanted a pound for their supermarket trolley.

Following the calls, South Wales Police has changed the way it answers the phone.

Instead of saying "South Wales Police, how can I help?", control room staff now say "South Wales Police what is your emergency?"

Since the change, they have reported a 10% drop in 999 calls.

Superintendent Kevin O'Neill said: "There is no doubt in my mind that the public have taken on board the message we sent about making inappropriate 999 calls and thought twice about dialling the number in a non-emergency situation for which we are extremely grateful.

"Thanks to the public we have been able to answer calls, concerning real emergencies, quicker," said Supt O'Neill.

Between January and June 2008, the force answered 86.4% of calls within 10 seconds compared to 76.2% in the same period last year - an improvement of just over 10%.

The change in the greeting is being monitored by Cardiff University researchers Professor Martin Innes of the Universities Police Science Institute and Dr Frances Rock of the Centre for Language and Communication.




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