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Happy 80th birthday 999

Last modified: 30 June 2017 at 01:06pm

Did you know that today marks 80 years since the 999 service was born?

The facility to dial 999 to make an emergency call to the police, fire or ambulance service was introduced in the UK in 1937, first in London and then gradually through rest of country. The 999 number was the first of its kind in the world and since it was launched it has been part of the fabric of British life.

How many calls do you usually get?

Every day, nationally, there are between 80,000 and 100,000 calls to the BT emergency service. Over 70% of 999 calls are from mobile phones and the numbers fluctuate between seasons.

Calls to 999 increases on key dates such as Halloween, Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve and at times of tragic events, such as the recent terrorist attacks.

North Yorkshire Police handle an average of 200 calls via the 999 service every day which has recently risen to over three hundred per day due to seasonal demand. That’s almost 5 calls per minute!

Our dedicated team are on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to answer all emergency 999 calls and non-emergency 101 calls which come in across the county of North Yorkshire.

What type of calls do you get?

How things have changed since that first call and the first call centre! The types of calls we receive range from serious calls reporting anti-social behaviour, public safety and welfare, road related issues to the more “unusual” types of call such as ‘I need a taxi’ and ‘how do I get to my hotel?’ To mark the occasion here are some great examples of previous 999 calls taken.

📞 Caller: I need to call 101 but don’t know the number so I called 999!

📞 Caller: It’s my daughter’s wedding day and she can’t fit into her dress, can the police attend and help get her into it!

📞 Caller: There is a seagull with a broken arm!

📞 Caller: What time does the local store close!

📞 Caller: I have an emergency. I need to cancel my hairdressers appointment and I can’t get through to them!

📞 Caller: (young caller requesting Mountain Rescue) I’m on the top bunk and can’t get down!

📞 Caller: I’ve lost a glove in the city somewhere.

📞 Caller: My takeaway has arrived and it has a hair in it!

📞 Caller: The Godfather is buried in Rome.

📞 Caller: My son’s prison sentence is too long.

📞 Caller: The tax office owes me money and they’re not paying.

📞 Caller: I need a taxi.

📞 Caller: Have I got a pending speeding fine?

📞 Caller: Is 1600 hours the same as 4 O’clock?

When should you dial 999?

The 999 number is for emergencies. If you need to speak to the police but it is not an emergency then you should call 101. Dial 999 if:

  • There is danger to life
  • There is the use, or immediate threat of use, of violence
  • There is serious injury to a person and / or serious damage to property
  • A crime is, or is likely to be serious, and in progress
  • An offender has just been disturbed at the scene
  • An offender has been detained and poses, or is likely to pose, a risk to other people
  • A road traffic collision involves, or is likely to involve, serious personal injury
  • A road is blocked after a road traffic collision, or there is a dangerous or excessive build up of traffic

Did you know?

The 999 service has a number of safety features to assist the emergency services to assist the public:

  • We are always given the callers telephone number to enable us to keep in touch during an emergency.
  • We are given the grid reference of where your call originates from to within a radius of 50 metres. This is very useful particularly in rural areas. This can assist in locating the caller.
  • For people with hearing difficulties there is a 999 SMS text message available via BT to the emergency services.
  • 112 is the European emergency number – calls to 112 automatically route to the BT 999 service.

Here’s a throwback to some of our old control room and police radio pics!






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