WATCH: “I’ve been mugged off” – woman dials 999 to report pizza delivery mix-up
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Essex Police are urging people to think before they call after a woman dialled 999 to report she had been “mugged off” by a takeaway company that mixed up her order.
A recording of the exchange was released by Essex Police as part of a new campaign aimed at tackling hoax and inappropriate calls.
The call handler asks the woman if everything is OK, and she replies: “Yeah, no, I’ve been mugged off by a f****** takeaway would you believe it.
“I rung up for an 18, a number 18 meat feast and she’s trying to tell me nah, nah you ordered a number eight.
“I’m allergic to mushrooms so I know for a fact I didn’t order a number eight right, and I’ve got a pizza sat here with f****** mushrooms on it that I can’t eat, £11.99 later she doesn’t want to help me out or nothing.”
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When advised to call the takeaway to ask for a refund, the woman said: “Well I tried to do that but she reckons she’s the manager.”
The force said it receives around 400 hoax or inappropriate 999 calls each month, including one lady who complained that her Nando’s chicken was undercooked.
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It stressed that the number increases in summer, with the peak-season problem comparable to the NHS’ ‘winter crisis’.
In further released recordings, a man asks why the police helicopter is “hovering over my house and disturbing the peace” and a separate caller inquires about a “bull in the field” sign.
The man says he wants to know “who I can contact to find out if there really is a bull in the field or it’s just a farmer messing around”.
Essex Police launched the new campaign, More Time to Fight Crime, on Monday – urging people to make use of the online reporting system at www.essex.police.uk or call 101 if not in a genuine emergency.
The launch of the campaign comes as the latest police figures reveal a seasonal spike in crime which saw the force record its busiest 24-hour period in recent memory.
Superintendent Kevin Baldwin, who heads the force’s control room, said: “There’s nothing that frustrates my team more than picking up the phone on a 999 call only for it to be a call which plainly isn’t an emergency and is sometimes a deliberate hoax.
“This is a very busy time of the year where we are working flat out, so answering a 999 call made by someone who should have a bit more common sense isn’t just infuriating, it could risk the life of someone who really needs us but can’t get through.”
The campaign will include promotion on social media to help people report non-emergency crime online, a new interactive online game which asks players to decide how police should respond to a range of real-life incidents, a 24-hour ‘tweetathon’ revealing the volume and types of calls the force respond to and a series of short films offering a glimpse into the world of call handing.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet added: “People are used to understanding that for the NHS winter is an exceptionally busy time, but for us it’s summer. The extra calls for help we get over the summer amount to about one day extra per week over what we expect during other seasons. That means sometimes people reporting a genuine incident but one that isn’t an emergency might have to wait a little longer for our help.
“We don’t have extra officers on duty over the summer so making sure we are where we need to be means two things: firstly that we put extra demands on hard-working police officers and staff; and secondly that we have to take difficult decisions about what incidents we go to first or at all. Communities can help us by making good use of the information that’s online which helps you report a non-emergency crime or find one of our partners who will be best placed to help you on non-policing issues.”