23rd Sep, 2018

999 calls hit record highs in the heat as alcohol intake rises and tempers fray

Correspondent 20th Jun, 2017 Updated: 20th Jun, 2017

THE hot weather in Coventry and the West Midlands has seen a surge in 999 calls to place ‘unprecedented demand’ on police services, say officers.

The ambulance service has also reported an increase in calls from people struggling with the heat, particularly the young, elderly and sick.

It comes as West Midlands Police says it is continuing with a mix of armed patrols and having a 24/7 response available following the terrorist attacks.

The force has also highlighted crank calls wasting valuable time, including one man who asked a female operator for a lift to a strip club, and a call about a woman’s bank card being swallowed by a cash machine.

The force said: “Demand for police services in the West Midlands hit unprecedented highs over the weekend with the force taking more 999 calls on each day than it did on New Year’s Eve!

“Last New Year’s Eve – traditionally the busiest day for UK policing – West Midlands Police took 2,727 emergency calls from the public.

“But demand over the 17-18 June weekend outstripped those levels and peaked at 2,840 on Sunday.”

The surge in 999 calls has been attributed by the force to people spending more time outdoors and drinking more alcohol.

Chief Inspector Gareth Mason, urged people to use the emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 numbers responsibly – and said people reporting less urgent matters may need to be patient.

He said: “We often see an increase in demand during hot weather; it’s difficult to identify a single cause. However, more people tend to spend time outside resulting in more antisocial behaviour reports, alcohol intakes increase and tempers can fray more easily in the heat.

“West Midlands Police is working incredibly hard to answer and resource these additional calls for service.

“At times like this it’s really important that people don’t clog up our phone lines and waste call handers’ time with trivial matters or questions that could be answered with a quick internet search.

“We need to prioritise calls so we can quickly reach people in urgent need of police support or to scenes where crimes are in progress.

“It may be that people reporting non-emergency matters have to wait a little longer than normal to see an officer and we thank them for their understanding.”

On Friday (June 16) just over 2,400 emergency calls were made to West Midlands Police.

By yesterday (Monday) that number had fallen to 2,410 – still well above the daily average of just fewer than 2,000, the force said.

Michelle Brotherton, West Midlands assistant chief ambulance officer, said: “We are seeing lots of cases of patients becoming dehydrated after not having drunk enough water.

“There are also cases of people who are simply overheating which is a particular problem if the individual already has problems with their heart or breathing. “Particularly over the weekend we also saw cases of heat exhaustion and heatstroke for people who were out in the sun for many hours who had not taken precautions.

“Thank you to our staff who are working incredibly hard to deal with the increased demand whilst also having to cope themselves in the high temperatures.

“There is no doubt many of those emergencies could have been avoided if people had taken precautions. We would therefore urge the public to look out for their loved ones, but also elderly neighbours who might be finding the current weather tough to deal with.”

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