A man asking the police to tell his mate that he is out of credit, requests for help to move from Sydney to Canberra, warnings that traffic lights are out and reports of someone parking their car poorly are just some of the random phone calls police receive on their emergency phone line.
Police are reminding locals to only call triple zero in the case of emergency, warning the public they may divert officers away from real emergencies which may have dire consequences and could lead to a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment.
An ACT Policing spokesperson said from the 29,000 triple zero calls police receive each year, nearly 70 per cent do not require immediate police attendance, with a significant number classified as a nuisance or hoax calls.
“These calls reduce ACT Policing’s capacity to respond to genuine emergency incidents in a timely manner,” the spokesperson 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.”
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) March 5, 2019
Police are warning that nuisance or hoax phone calls may lead to emergency responses being activated – such as urgent duty driving – creating an unnecessary risk for police, emergency services members and the general public.
In some severe cases, people have been charged in the past for making repeated nuisance or hoax calls.
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) February 13, 2019
In August 2017, a Canberra man faced court for continually calling 000 for incidents that were not an emergency. After a warning from police, the man continued to make calls before he was arrested and taken to court.
In December 2017, police arrested and charged a 33-year-old Northern Territory man with multiple counts of misuse of an emergency call service. It was alleged he made around 1,862 calls to the NSW triple zero in 2015, as well as making nuisance calls in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia across a number of years.
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) January 3, 2019
Though some of the calls made from the Canberra public are with good intentions, with warnings about traffic lights being out and people dumping rubbish, police said Triple Zero is not the correct number to call and is only meant to be used for emergencies.
“There are a number of ways members of the public can contact police besides calling the triple zero number,” the spokesperson said. “It is important that the Canberra public is aware of these options, and the circumstances in which they should be used.
“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.”
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) January 12, 2019
— ACT Policing (@ACTPolicing) December 18, 2018