Huge 999 call spike as Wales reopens with some 'struggling' with life after lockdown

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Call handlers are dealing with a huge spike in emergency calls, with many "experiencing challenges" adapting to life after lockdown, a police boss has said.

South Wales Police said there has also been a demand from people needing the 999 service, with a "significant increase" during evenings following the reopening of the night time economy.

The force said it has now had to reallocate resources to support its emergency control room in Bridgend and prioritise the most life-threatening incidents.

"I think we’re seeing some of the outcomes of the pandemic in terms of some of the social challenges people are experiencing as we come out of it", Chief Inspector Chris Truscott told ITV News.

"We’re seeing a wide variety of calls at the moment and our demand profile looks significantly different to what it did before the pandemic.

"We think that’s for a number of reasons - the night time economy reopening and people being able to do lots of things that they weren’t able to do over the last 18 months."

"Normally when the children go back to school in the first week of September, we'd expect the demand to settle down and that's what we're hoping will happen."

"But at the moment it certainly seems to be a consistent picture of increased demand, week on week", he added.

Donna has been a call handler for nine years

Donna, a call handler who has worked at the centre for nine years said, "I don't know whether people are feeling the effect of being let free so do we have peaks of a lot of calls in the evenings.

"Sometimes you feel as if you're not having much of a break from the phone calls because there's a lot coming in, so you feel obliged to keep making sure that we're getting those calls through", she added.

As well as 999 and 101 calls, the emergency control room has to respond to digital messages from the public.

"We do get a lot of calls to the 999 service if they're not able to get through on 101, but our job is to risk assess those calls and then we can hopefully refer them to the appropriate service."

The force said it wants to make the message clear that people should only call 999 if it is necessary.