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Emergency service number 999 turns 80 years old

999 celebrates its 80th birthday on Friday. Credit: PA

The world's oldest emergency service - the UK's 999 - has turned 80 years old.

From handling roughly 1,000 calls during its first week of operation in London back in 1937, the service now takes up to 560,000 calls every seven days - equating to 30 million a year.

Glasgow was the second city to introduce 999 in 1938.

World War Two delayed the roll-out across the UK for some years, until it reached all major towns and cities by 1948.

Roughly 560,000 calls are made to 999 every week. Credit: PA

According to BT, more than 97% of 999 calls are now answered within five seconds.

Peak times are shown to be around midnight on Friday and Saturdays, with approximately 5,000 calls made an hour.

The early hours of New Year's Day are traditionally the busiest time of the year, when up to 9,000 calls can be received each hour.

A selection of less 'urgent' 999 calls:

  • Adviser: "Do you need fire, police or ambulance?" Young caller: "Mountain Rescue please." Adviser: "Where are you?" Young caller: "I'm on the top bunk and I can't get down."
  • Adviser: "Do you need fire, police or ambulance?" Caller: "Can I get the Police, someone has stolen my snowman from my garden, can you come quickly?"
  • Adviser: "Do you need fire, police or ambulance?" Caller: "There's a seagull with a broken arm."
  • Adviser: "Do you need fire, police or ambulance?" Caller: "I need the police, I ordered a takeaway that cost me £30 and they took it to number six, when I live at number seven."