1. ITV Report

Essex police warning over time-wasting 999 calls

Essex police receive up to 400 hoax or inappropriate calls a month Credit: ITV News Anglia

Essex police has launched a campaign to stop the number of time-wasting calls they get to the 999 service.

Called 'More Time to Fight Crime', police want to remind people to think before they call 999.

In one phone call, a man uses the 999 service to complain that there is a rat in his house, another person called up to swear at police.

Call handler, "Hello if you've got an emergency and you need the police could you press the number on the key pad to let me know you are here."

Caller, "I am here but you lot can't help me, I'm just calling you so I can waste time out here."

Call handler, "Why would you want to waste time?"

Caller, "because I can't get home, I've told the police 50 ******* times already."

Call handler, "Don't swear at me."

– The caller phoned 999 because he missed his train

Click below to listen to a couple of inappropriate calls to Essex police.

Hoax or inappropriate calls every month to 999 service

"We take a zero-tolerance approach to hoax calls because they stop people who really need us from getting through. Our message is clear: it's not clever, it's not funny and it could well end up with you being arrested, fined and imprisoned."

– Chief Inspector Glen Pavelin, Essex Police Force Control Room

The campaign is also raising awareness about what is a police matter and knowing how to report non-emergency crime.

"We take hundreds of calls every month on issues like noise nuisance or parking problems which can and should be resolved by local partners. We will always try and help but especially at summertime our resources can be stretched. Knowing how to do things like report non-emergency crime online will give us more time to fight crime."

– Chief Inspector Glen Pavelin, Essex Police Force Control Room

Social media will also be used to help people report non-emergency crime online.

A new interactive online game also gives players the chance to decide how police should react to real-life incidents and there'll be 24-hour 'tweetathons' about the day in the life of the force. It will show the amount of time police have to spend dealing with incidents where no crime has been committed.

Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Liz Summers.