From West Mercia Police:

In May, our operations and communications centre received almost 20,000 999 calls, of these 4791 were abandoned.

That’s around 155 abandoned 999 calls every day. This figure is an increase of 100% in our abandoned 999 calls compared to May 2022.

Each time this happens, our call handlers spend time investigating if that person is safe. Some of these calls are genuine emergencies, but many are pocket dials and children playing with their parent’s phone.

So, to help us establish the real emergencies quickly, we’re asking you to stay on the line if you call us by accident and let us know that you’re okay.

Public Contact Chief Inspector Carrie Solomon said: “With every abandoned call, we need to check on the caller’s welfare, which means in some cases, we’ll dispatch an officer to find them.

“Our call handlers will try to phone the person back, but if they can’t get through, they’ll contact their network supplier to pinpoint where they are.

“We can’t assume that the person is okay – and every second counts in an emergency.”

The vast majority of these abandoned calls are accidental. This is not just an issue we have in West Mercia, it’s nationwide. Improvements to phone and smart watch software, which make it easier for you to let us know if you do need assistance, also increase the possibility of a pocket dial.

Chief Inspector Solomon continues: “Phone users usually hang up quickly out of panic and embarrassment – but please stay on the line and let us know you’re ok.

“We understand that accidental calls like this happen to everyone at some point. The key thing is letting us know you’re safe – you’re not in any trouble!

“So to help us out, stay on the line and have a quick conversation with our call handler and let them know what has happened, then we can close the call. We’d much rather spend a couple of minutes on the phone to you than an hour tracking you down.”

Our team in our operations and communication centre last month (May 2023) took over 50,000 calls for service a day via 999, the non-emergency 101 number and our digital channels.

Breaking down these figures we received:

  • 19384 999 calls
  • 27918 101 calls
  • 3312 contacts through our digital channels.

Every contact to us goes through a threat, risk and harm assessment which leads to that contact being prioritised accordingly.

Remember, you can help to keep our phone lines free for emergencies by using our online services, you can contact us for an update here and report non-emergency incidents online via our website here.

Our website can be accessed 24 hours a day and has a wealth of information contained in our advice and information page which can help you make the right call.

Phone settings

Our colleagues at West Yorkshire Police have put together some advice on how to adjust your phone settings Pocket Dial / Silent 999 Calls | West Yorkshire Police