Thames Valley Police is urging the public to think before you dial, as 80% of calls to 999 are not an emergency.
Writing to residents, TVP said:
"Please ask yourself two questions before making a call to 999:
"Is someone’s life in danger?
"Is a crime taking place right now?
"If the answer to either of these is yes, then this is an appropriate 999 call."
Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt, Head of Contact Management for Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, said: “I am keen to raise awareness of how you can contact the police when immediate help is not required.
“In an emergency situation, every second counts, and ultimately using 999 to ask to speak to an officer or to report a crime that took place a few days ago, could delay police responding to someone who is in desperate need of help.
“I would like to ask members of the public to think before you dial. Is a life in danger? Is a crime in progress? If both answers are no, then please use our 24 hour non-emergency number 101, or contact us online. Of course, if either of these answers is yes, then you must call us immediately on 999.”
Any inappropriate use of 999 could delay the emergency services responding to those who need help immediately, this decision to use 999 inappropriately could cost lives.
You can see this in the attached video, where someone calls 999 to complain of a 'putrid chicken'.
Whilst some of these inappropriate 999 calls are hoax calls or clearly inappropriate, we understand that the majority of the calls are because callers are unaware of how to get in touch with the police.
101 is the contact number for Thames Valley Police for all non-emergency situations and enquiries. However, please always consider if your call is a policing matter before calling 101.
The Thames Valley Police website can also be used to report a crime that has happened recently, where a life is not in danger, or if you would like to ask a question or update an existing crime report; www.thamesvalley.police.uk
The Contact Management Department at Thames Valley Police is made up of staff working 24/7 every day of the year.
The 101 lines are constantly manned by call handlers who are trained to record crimes and send police officers where necessary and who can answer a wide range of queries relating to police matters.
These trained operators will also monitor the reports and contact forms that are made online throughout the day and night and each report will be actioned within 4 hours of it being received.