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999 call asking for bread delivery among requests from public during Beast from the East

A person walks in deep snow in rural Carron Valley near Stirling, Scotland. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
A person walks in deep snow in rural Carron Valley near Stirling, Scotland. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

 

A request to borrow a shovel and a plea for bread to be delivered were just some of the calls to police as the Beast from the East gripped the country.

As last week’s heavy snowfall sparked the first red weather alert of its type, Police Scotland’s service centre responded to thousands of calls from members of the public.

A total of 23,626 calls were made to 101 and 5,508 999 calls were received in the four days leading up to and including Thursday March 1.

The number of 999 calls was 12% higher than in a typical four-day period.

Despite various messages on social media informing the public that service centres were experiencing a high volume of calls and redirecting people to the appropriate agencies or organisations, calls were still received about road and school closures.

Throughout this period, police staff also received unsuitable calls to the service which included:

– A member of the public asking police how to get to the shops for alcohol and cigarettes.

– A call asking if police officers were able to make deliveries of bread as they had run out.

– A caller reporting that a gate had frozen.

– A call requesting an emergency vet as the local vet would not arrange a home visit.

– A member of the public asking if they could borrow a snow shovel.

Chief Inspector Alan Gray, of contact, command and control division based in Govan, Glasgow, said: “These types of calls are taking an adviser away from what could be an important 999 call and a member of the public who may need urgent assistance.

“Our service centre advisers deal with a call every 10 seconds. They are highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable, and are there to help.

“Most people contact the police appropriately, however there are a small percentage who do not – this misuse of 101 and 999 could cost lives.”

More information about 101 and the ways to contact Police Scotland are available on the Police Scotland website via www.scotland.police.uk/101999aware.