North Yorkshire Police warning as 999 service gears up for the busiest night of the year

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North Yorkshire Police are reminding people not to put unnecessary strain on the emergency services over the Christmas and New Year period.

The call comes in the wake of a series of time-wasting 999 calls which included someone asking what time Sainsbury’s closed.

Stressing the demand on the Police service, Jane Larkin, Control Room Manager at North Yorkshire Police, said: “During the festive period, the public still need the assistance of the emergency services who are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide a service.

“Traditionally from the Friday evening before Christmas up to New Year’s Day police forces deal with many extra calls.”

In the past year, BT’s committed team handled more than 34 million calls at an average of 93,000 per day.

Of those calls connected to the emergency services, 49% were for the Police, 47% Ambulance, 4% Fire and less than 1% for the Coastguard.

As most people are winding down to enjoy the festive celebrations, calls to 999 are expected to surge, with teams working around the clock to deal with the demands.

Ian Watson, 999 Manager at BT, said: “Our busiest period of the year is from about 9pm on New Year’s Eve to 3am on New Year’s morning when we receive almost half a day’s calls in just six hours with a peak of up to 9,000 calls per hour.”

The majority of these calls are from people in genuine need of policing services such as reporting people as missing, concern for people’s safety, attendance at serious road traffic collisions and violent incidents where excessive drinking has been a factor.

In recent years there have also been requests for assistance caused by extreme seasonal weather patterns, such as flooding and heavy snow conditions.”

The 999 line handles thousands of critical calls but also some less well-judged requests. Calls that the police have received include:

* the off-licence has closed early

* requests for instructions on how to defrost a turkey

* “What time does Sainsbury’s close?”

As the front-line response team at BT and the emergency services gear up for the busiest night of the year, the public are advised to be mindful and only dial 999 in the case of an emergency.