Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Learner rings 999 over late teacher

Police received an emergency call from a learner driver involved in an argument with his instructor

A learner driver dialled 999 asking for "emergency" police assistance during a row with his instructor.

Call handlers at West Midlands Police were baffled when they received the call from a man just after 8am last Thursday reporting that his instructor had arrived minutes late for their session.

The caller told them: "I've got an emergency... the person who's supposed to be teaching me came late and now she's asking me to get out of her car. She's saying I'm giving her attitude... please come over. I need someone to complain to. Who should I complain to?"

West Midlands Police have released an audio recording of the mobile phone call, which lasts just over two minutes, to highlight the importance of using 999 to report genuine emergencies.

During the call, the instructor can be heard asking the man to get out of the car. The call handler advises the learner to speak to the instructor's employer or the body that regulates driving instructors before stressing the importance of only using 999 to report genuine emergencies.

West Midlands Police Contact Centre Chief Inspector Sally Holmes branded such calls "ridiculous" and said they deflect police resources from people in genuine need of emergency assistance.

She said: "We regularly receive calls on the 9s about lost property, people asking for directions and revellers who've been denied entry to nightclubs. Other recent 'emergencies' include a blocked sink plug in a hotel room and someone who'd forgotten their computer password!

"It's astonishing listening to them but they hide a serious truth. Each call often takes minutes to deal with as staff have to clarify the situation - it might not sound like much but, if someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency, then a minute is a very long time to wait.

"I cannot stress enough the 999 number is for emergencies only. This is defined as a crime in progress, if someone suspected of a crime is nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened. To contact police for any other reason, call 101."

No further action was taken against the caller by the police, a force spokesman confirmed.

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