If you're out of credit or your fast food is cold, don't call Triple Zero. These are just two of the examples of calls received from Canberra callers to the emergency hotline.
Police have warned that stupid Triple Zero calls risk diverting officers away from real emergencies, which could have what they say are "dire consequences".
In recent months on the emergency line, they've had:
- a request to babysit.
- a request for a ride home because the caller didn't have money for a taxi;
- a caller asking for help moving belongings from Sydney to Canberra;
- a complaint that fast food was delivered cold;
- a window awning was broken.
A spokesman for ACT Policing said 70 per cent of Triple Zero calls didn't require the police to respond immediately. Some are plain nuisance calls but others are just thoughtless.
"These calls reduce ACT Policing’s capacity to respond to genuine emergency incidents in a timely manner," a police spokesman said.
"The calls also occupy emergency service lines unnecessarily and have the potential to delay a genuine call for emergency assistance being answered. This can obviously have dire consequences."
On social media, the police response has been good humoured despite their frustration.
One ACT Policing Facebook post said, "Just a friendly reminder that Triple Zero (000) is for emergencies only, NOT to ask us for a ride home because you have no cash for a cab".
Another said, "Pleeeeeease don’t call Triple Zero (000) and ask us to move your belongings from Sydney to Canberra".
Daft as a few Australian callers have been, their stupidity seems to be exceeded in Britain.
According to the British media:
- One person complained that he had lost his trousers;
- A caller said, "There’s a hedgehog in my garden".
- There was a call for help to resuscitate a pigeon;
- Another that KFC had run out of chicken.
Canberra police also warned about hoax callers - deliberate rather than stupid wastes of police time.
"Nuisance or hoax phone calls may also lead to emergency responses being activated, such as urgent duty driving, creating an unnecessary risk for police, emergency services members and the general public," the spokesman said.
People have been charged in the past for that kind of malicious call.
The heart-felt message of the police in the ACT (and no doubt one that resonates among police forces around the world) is: "Triple Zero (000) is for emergencies ONLY! Not to let us know someone is dumping rubbish!"
It is "NOT for asking us to babysit your kids because hubby is late home from work."
They say there are better ways of getting in touch with the police for non-emergencies. "If members of the public wish to report a crime or a non-life-threatening incident, they should contact the ACT Policing assistance line on 131 444.
"If people have information about illegal activity or suspect offenders, they can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the website at www.act.crimestoppers.com.au ."