Not life-threatening but emergencies

PUBLISHED: 08:48 19 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:28 24 May 2010

SO THE Avon and Somerset Constabulary head of communications is Chief Supt John Buckley. Pity his statements on the 'new' number for contacting the police are so unclear

SO THE Avon and Somerset Constabulary head of communications is Chief Supt John Buckley. Pity his statements on the 'new' number for contacting the police are so unclear. One such states "0845 4567000 will become the single non-emergency number for all public contact with the force". Another line states "However, if people have a life or death emergency we would ask they continue to call 999". So the question is - if one is witnessing a vandal spraying graffiti, or a prowler trying back doors of houses, or prohibited vehicles on unauthorised roads, what number does one call?They are not life-threatening perhaps, but they are emergencies if you detest criminals not getting caught, plus they are crimes, and crimes that some people believed the police might well apprehend someone for, when 999 was the obvious number for most rational people to call.Now, however, the promotion of the 0845 4567000 number will suggest to anyone who believed there was a small section of the police force ready and able to react, that it will certainly not be that section to whom they speak. Thus with time being of the essence, what will be the point in calling it?I may be cynical (indeed I am) but 999 calls typically resulted in crime reference numbers (CRNs) being generated, and call logs completed, both of which best-evidenced the level of crime and antisocial behaviour that the public report. If we are led to believe that 999 is only for "life or death" and other contact methods are for matters that will be deemed trivial by default, then the number of calls will decline as no one wants to be troubling the police with 'trivia'. But hey ho - the statistic will no doubt improve!Finally Chief Sup Buckley says: "With the advent of our new Force Service Centre we hope to offer members of the public a first class service when they call the police." I understand first class to be better than standard class. As the standard was to call the police on 999 and expect to be able to report any crime or suspicious mater to a police force able to do something tangible about your information, I fail to see how this number will give anyone a "first class service".MR G R DAVEY - Via e-mail

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