Avon and Somerset Police spent 400 hours on accidental calls

An emergency room call handler at Avon & Somerset Police Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Police call handlers are having to waste hundreds of hours on accidental 999 calls

Accidental 999 calls created nearly 400 hours of work for Avon and Somerset Police in one month.

The force said it received 2,955 abandoned calls in July 2019 - up from 1,975 in July 2015.

Call handlers said most of those calls seemed to have been caused by people 'pocket-dialling' 999.

Some calls came from children and one from a dog playing with a phone. One man told police to change their number to avoid him accidentally calling them.

A 999 call is recorded as 'abandoned' when the line is disconnected before the caller speaks or if they confirm to an operator they are safe and well.

When a call is abandoned, police often have to call the person back to check they are OK. In July this year, Avon and Somerset officers spent 380 hours dealing with these types of calls.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One accidental phone call to Avon and Somerset Police was made by a dog

The force's communications manager Rob Simmons said it wasted "precious time that could otherwise be spent helping someone with an emergency".

"We once received a 999 call from a dog playing with a house phone. The owners were apologetic when they heard back from us. But, like the advice we give to parents whose children have called 999, we would always ask that phones are kept out of their reach."

Another incident included a man who kept dialling the police by accident being told how he could contact his network provider and lock his phone to prevent it happening.

He became angry and told the call handler that the police should change their number instead.

Most smartphones have functions which can prevent accidental emergency calls. The force has put together a user guide to prevent it happening.

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