back to article Hamster-in-rain emergency prompts 999 call

South Wales police force has published a list of top time-wasting 999 calls during the past year in an attempt to convince people not to pick up the phone unless it's really necessary. According to icWales, the highlight of 2007 came when one woman demanded officers come and cuff her boyfriend because he'd put her hamster out …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward


    Publishing a list of the most idiotic calls will just turn it into a contest, won't it? Just imagine the bragging rights among your peers....

    At least that is how it seems to work for the Darwin awards :-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I don't understand is....

    Whenever recordings of these sorts of ludicrous 999 calls are played out on telly or the radio, you hear the operator explaining to the idiot who called that Tiddles looking a bit off-colour is not a police emergency.

    Why don't the operators just have a button that they can press that will play some sort of "go away, you are an idiot and if you call again we will prosecute you" type recorderd message before cutting them off?

    ...or just put the phone down on them?

    Surely this would same quite a bit of time compared to entering into conversation such callers.

  3. Chris Matchett

    poor hamster

    I sympathise with the hamster lady. Putting a hamster out in the rain is animal cruelty. Okay so maybe a call to the local police station would be more appropriate but a crime had been comitted.

  4. Steve Renouf

    Fine them!

    ...that's what I say - that might get the message across!

  5. The Other Steve

    1 in 10 ?

    If they think that having only one in ten of their calls being a complete waste of time and resources is bad, they've obviously never worked in IT support !

  6. Steve Wehrle

    May I suggest outsourcing ..

    Why don't the police enlist the help of some non-PC people, so that useless time-wasters can be put through to someone who will inform them in no uncertain terms what complete f*cktards they are, and to get a life?

    You could almost do a check-list for the caller : Name? Address? Age? Phone Number? Were you born this stupid or did you have to take lessons? ...

  7. F Cage

    What change?

    Whenever I've had cause to ring 999 in England, the response has always been "Emergency, what service do you require?"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A link to the whole list would be nice

    as South Wales Police don't seem to have published it on their website.

  9. Matt


    Inappropriate calls are only a problem if they don't provide enough staff, which is probably what's at the bottom of this. They've massaged the figures up as high as they dare to try and cut costs, or have an excuse when they don't do their job.

    In my experience the police aren't that interested in solving or even attending crime scenes which only effect non-celebs or can't be spun as terrorism.

  10. Richard Ormson
    Thumb Down

    Pot and Kettle?

    "For many years we have been trying to educate the public on what is or isn’t a 999 call,"

    And for years the public has been trying to educate the police on what are crimes worthy of investigation ..... but if they persist in portraying themselves as a social service rather than law enforcers, what do they expect?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to teach people too...

    I had to teach my wife how to get the point over in the first sentence because dick wad telephonists don't have the patience to listen to the person on the other end of the telephone.

    For example, she wanted the name of a certified translator from Filipino to French for her mother's visa application. She needed the paperwork translated by someone with official certification in France to do it.

    She rang the Philippines's embassy in Paris.

    Her: "My mother wants a visa to come visit and...."

    Them: (Interjects) "This is the wrong embassy for that, you need to contact the French embassy in the Philippines"

    Her: "But I need to ask you..."

    Them: "This is the wrong way, the wrong way, you (speaking slowly) neeeeed tooooo contacttt theee Freeeennnnch emmmmbasssssy" (hangs up).

    I had to explain to her, telephone operators nowadays are total dicks with zero tolerance of other people's communication skills. There will be a bean counter behind her, counting how many calls she's dealt with in the last hour and so she's keen not to waste time on calls she thinks are wrong. She jumped to a false conclusion based on your first sentence.

    When dealing with these operators, you have treat them like the little children they are and GUIDE them to the answer by funnelling them into the channel you want them to be.

    I then rang the embassy to show her.

    Me: "I'm looking for a translator from Filipino to French, and wonder if you have a list"

    Them: "Is it for French legal documents, or just general text"

    Me: "It's for my Filipino mother in laws visa application to France".

    Them: "Hold the line I'll put you through to someone who can help"

    ... me then arranges to get the list.

    Perhaps they pass a list around of funny calls they've received, and how this stupid Filipino woman rang the Philippines embassy in Paris for a visa from the French embassy in the Philippines. Ha ha how stupid can she be?! (And by implication how clever are we).

    But she isn't stupid and you ain't clever.

    Did they give the hamster lady the RSPCA number BTW?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    mental state?

    Perhaps the majority of these people are actually diagnosed mentally deficient or retarded in some way and can't help it. This campaign about inappropriate 999 calls will do nothing for these poor people.

    Whats wrong with just telling them its grossly inappropriate and just hang up on them? Far less costly than running a 'don't call 999 unless..' campaign.

    In such cases it shouldn't take more than five seconds to complete the call, hence freeing up the lines quickly.

    I don't understand how such calls can be disruptive to emergency services if they just quickly hang up on them - they're never going to actually stop.

  13. Hedley Phillips

    @Chris Matchett

    How on earth is putting an animal outside in the rain cruelty?

    A bit of rain would not cause any harm or suffering (which is what cruelty is) to a hamster which in its wild habitat is often, er outside.

    Now back to the story. I think these people should be fined for being so stupid. What on earth makes someone phone 999 because they don't have a £1 coin for a supermarket trolley?

    I like the suggestion of a standard taped response that can be played to people when they match all or some of the criteria for a muppet.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ... and numpties like these are allowed to vote and be on a jury!...

    ... and their opinions are permitted to be aired on talk radio/blogs (assuming they can write) etc...

    My only fix would be for the police to consider it a matter of emergency to remove such fools from the gene-pool...

    ... but who then would vote for <insert stupid legistlation>?

  15. John

    Not Just San Diego, et all

    Here in Washington state its "911 please state your emergency". It was also that way in Oregon when I lived there. Also, I am pretty sure that if you do a prank call to 911, they send the police (bobbys) over and can fine you if it is flagrant enough.

  16. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Entitlement culture

    Convince people that the state (or other authority organisation if we're going to be fair) is there to provide their every need and, as night follows day, they will turn to the state (or etc) to provide every _want_ that they _perceive_ as a need. Cos they pay taxes/subscription fees/whatever don'tcha know...

  17. Trevor Watt

    It is all about the numbers....

    People can not or will not find the number they need, so use one they know.

    So if there was a 3 digit number (like 555 for example) you could dial that would have you connected to your local police station then people would use it for non-emergencies. Clearly it would raise issues with mobiles but with handset signal triangulation it would be possible, O2 used to be able to connect you to your local traffic news by dialing the same number wherever you were.

  18. Red Bren

    Follow Virgin Media's lead

    999 calls should be charged at £1/min which will be refunded if your call really was an emergency.

    @F Cage

    When I phoned 999 to report some joy-riders breaking into a neighbours car, the police turned up while I was still on the phone and caught the little scrotes red-handed!

  19. andy

    how about 555

    hmmm, let's see. I'm in a bit of a flap and feel I need to call for help. What numbers can I remember? 999. Oh, no, maybe I should try and find a phone book or turn on a computer and look up the number of the local station. But I'm all in a tiz. So I'll call the only number I know.

    wtf haven't they got a simple number (555?) for non emergency calls that routes locally. It's not difficult. Yes I know there's an 0845 something one but I can't remember that many digits. And I'm not paying some extortionate amount for directory enquiries whose number I can't remember either.....

  20. tranquil


    Well putting someones hamster outside could be part of an elaborate campaign of torture, but you'd imagine the a caller would mention this.

    Its also possible my mind has drifted beyond the point of sanity, what with it being Friday and all.

    I propose a solution were people who make crank calls to 999 are automatically added to cold-calling call-centres marketing lists. Many, many times.

  21. Tom

    It will be Welsh only soon!

    In light of the recent developments where a small minority are pushing to make the Welsh language compulsory in all walk of life - I am guessing that it won't be long before the Police will only respond if you tell them in Welsh. In much the same way the Ceredigion County Council were giving priority to Welsh speakers in planning applications, the Police will give priority to those who call 999 in Welsh. Unfortunatly, apart from the Welsh Mafis (Taffia) in the Senydd and Assembly, very few people in South Wales are fluent in Welsh. This means that all 999 calls will be answered by the one bloke in Tonypandy who can speak Welsh. All those that don't speak Welsh will be left to sort out the emergency on their own.

    Prynhown da, Heddlu De Cymru, beth ydy dy argyfwng?

  22. Tawakalna

    so what?

    even if your call is a life or death emergency, you'll not see a copper for hours or even days, if ever. So it hardly matters that people are blocking up the 999 system with trivial that like this, because (in my experience) the Police are lazy, useless t*ssers who don't give a damn and would rather send a waste-of-time PCSO out a few days later than bother to leave the station themselves.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    These are the tame stories

    Having spent time in all 3 of the South Wales Police Control rooms I can assure you that these are the tame stories.

    When I was in the Cardiff Control room we had the really funny phone calls played back to us. These included a woman with a strange object stuck in her lady bits, a bloke locked in a toilet and the day before yesterday a lady who wanted a lift home as she could not find a taxi.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not charge?

    Why not charge £100 to call 999? Personally I wouldn't care if it cost me £100 to call in a real life-or-death emergency whether it was for myself or a complete stranger, but better yet why not have the cost covered by an insurance policy that will reimburse you in the event of it being a real emergency?

  25. Llanfair

    Maybe this is why they call 999.

    Could the reason why people dial 999 for the police station is that they cannot afford to look for whatever 0845/0870 their local police station number is? If the police station had a normal number then people would not have to call the only number they know, which is 999. I remember they were going to try and pilot a different number that is also easy to remember, but is not for emergencies.

  26. Stratman


    " I sympathise with the hamster lady. Putting a hamster out in the rain is animal cruelty. Okay so maybe a call to the local police station would be more appropriate but a crime had been comitted."

    Doesn't it ever rain in Hamsterland then?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    It seems to me...

    <singing>"It seems to me like you lived your life like a hamster in the rain..."</singing>

  28. Kenny Millar

    Police? Emergency? Don't make me laugh.

    The police (Scottish: Polis) don't know the meaning of the word 'Emergency'.

    Our local police force (Strathclyde) wouldn't turn out for a shooting, so what difference does it make? Whether it takes you a long time or not to get through, you're still not gonna get the copper out of his nice warm station.

  29. Spleen

    What do they count as a real emergency?

    "Help, my little brother is drowning!"

    "That's not an emergency, call us when someone's holding a rave miles from human habitation, smoking in a private establishment or wearing a backpack on the Underground."


    "Please be aware that if you call again with frivolous requests you may be prosecuted nine times in the back of the head."

    If a mere 1 in 10 pointless calls risk blocking someone with a genuine emergency, then the emergency services would have to be right on the edge in terms of the ratio of call-centre staff employed to staff required. I'm talking balancing-barefoot-on-a-knife-blade on the edge. Given that this is the emergency services, they almost certainly have enough extra staff that 1 in 10 unnecessary calls make the chances of a genuine caller not getting through - with life-threatening consequences - infinitesmal.

    F***ed up police priorities are far more dangerous to the public than hoax or frivolous callers. This an attempt to distract us from the stories of people who call the police over and over again to get rid of chavs vandalising their property with nothing done, then eventually lose their patience, confront the scum on their own, and get stabbed for their pains.

  30. SPiT

    It happens to the Fire Brigade as well

    Some years ago when London Fire was moving to a new control the ex-directory number for the 999 lines was the same as Kings Cross rail enquiries number except for one digit that was an 8 instead of a 5. As we all know people like doodling and changing 5s to 8s.

    Anyway, I once spent several hours working in the control room (prior to official use) with a fire service operator sitting there aanswering calls. There were about 100 calls through the day and only a minority of callers cared that their call was answered "Fire Brigade emergency". A good 50% insisted on continuing to repeatedly ask about train times and only rang of in frustration when the operator essentially refused to answer their query.

    Needless to say the number got changed.

    The lesson is simple. Callers have a fixed idea of what they expect and if you don't take the time to "deal with them" they just keep ringing back.

  31. Christopher E. Stith
    Thumb Up

    a new number makes sense

    Here in Illinois, we call the nationwide standard 911 for emergencies.

    I can also call 611 to ring my mobile phone company. I can dial 411 for directory assistance. I can dial 811 to make sure when I dig a hole I'm not into someone's water, sewer, natural gas, or electric service.

    311 has been reserved nationwide for non-emergency connection to the emergency services, but very few cities have implemented it. So if I need a police officer (or fire inspector for some reason) but it's not a life-threatening emergency, I need to have a seven-digit, eight, ten, or eleven digit number handy that is different in every town (only seven or ten on my cell, but it might be eight or eleven on a land line because many force one to dial the country code when dialing a number in the same country).

    At a payphone, I can sometimes convince the operator to put me through without dropping coins if it's a somewhat-emergency, but payphones are becoming more rare and the phone companies really would rather you called information and then the full number.

    I give a big thumbs up to 311 here and 555 or whatever over there. I think it's an idea that would work well everywhere.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    isn't it 101

    Don't they use 101 (or similar, can't actually remember) for non-ermegency calls?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    101 is live - soft of

    101 is now used as a non-emergency number for police and local authorities in several areas in England and Wales, and will be extended to cover all of England and Wales by 2008. However, some other numbers are sometimes classed as "emergency": 0800 111 999 for gas leaks, 08 45 46 47 for NHS Direct etc.

  34. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    @ those who said just put the phone down

    It doesnt work like that. Those that you just put the phone down on will inevitably be stupid enough to call back again, and complain the first person was just plain rude.

    Stupid people only understand the meaning of no in one context, when they say it. Other people saying no is "Just being silly".

  35. Bob
    Thumb Up


    I know Kevin O'neill, he's a Karate intrustor and 4th Dan. Perhaps the people who make the top 10 can be bound and used as punch bags at his club? A public service if you will...

  36. Ed


    Maybe the hamster was asthmatic?

  37. Paul

    Charge for inapropriate calls

    Caller ID (except for the ever increasingly rare public phone box) should identify the source number. If the call is inappropriate, slap that number with a £10 to £100 charge.

    Once the idiots start to feel it in the wallet they will think before calling.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    101 non emergency

    Only been implemented as a "non emergency" number in part of England and Wales, not widespread yet though, and certainly not in Scotland or Ireland.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My home number is, apart from the 8 on the end rather than 5, the same as a very prominent local solicitors firm.

    At first, being out all day, I just got messages on my answerphone. Some left what was obviously sensitive information. Others complained that the message (Hello, leave a message, I'll get back to you) was very unprofessional. Then I switched to flexible working and began answering the calls in person. People would, after being told they had the wrong number several times, STILL ask if they could be put through to their solicitor. Some would ask who and where I was, then act all surprised when I told them it was none of their business!

    Anyway, I digress. If the emergency services want to cut out these idiotic calls, then short of an idiot cull, they need to provide a number for non-emergencies that people can remember. Seems like a common sense approach to me.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    There should be something like the Darwin awards for these people

    Stuff fining them, people have too much disposable income these days. Flog the b***ards!

    And in public too. And show it live on Jeremy Kyle because it's well known that most people who make these calls watch daytime TV.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    just in case people thought Hammy may not be built for the rain


    Hamsters' northern range extends from central Europe through Siberia, Mongolia, and northern China to Korea. The southern portion of their range stretches from Syria to India. Throughout dry, open country they inhabit desert borders, vegetated sand dunes, shrubby and rocky foothills and plateaus, river valleys, and mountain steppes; some live among cultivated crops. Geographic distribution varies greatly between species. The common hamster, for example, is found from central Europe to western Siberia and northwestern China, but the golden hamster has been found only near a small town in northwestern Syria


  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, no, the best number for time-waster calls would be the universally recognised number...


    apparently ^^^ that on its own wasn't good enough to be a comment

  43. Anonymous Coward


    "wtf haven't they got a simple number (555?) for non emergency calls that routes locally. It's not difficult."

    Have you thought that one through properly? Do you think someone stupid enough to dial 999 because their husband won't let them watch Eastenders is going to have the brains to weigh up their options and dial 555 instead? They already assessed the situation and concluded that the appropriate course of action was to call the emercancy services. It's like saying off-licences should be made to stock alchohol free drinks alongside the beer and spirits so that alchoholics can choose to buy them instead of booze...

  44. Morely Dotes

    @ SPiT

    "A good 50% insisted on continuing to repeatedly ask about train times and only rang of in frustration when the operator essentially refused to answer their query."

    The poor fire service operator should have replied, "we're terribly sorry, but British Rail has canceled all trains today because the scheduling office has been deluged with calles from useless tossers trying to report fires."

  45. BitTwister

    @Chris Matchett

    > Putting a hamster out in the rain is animal cruelty.

    So you think that in the wild they have little wellies, plastic macs and sou'westers?

  46. Andrew Taylor

    999 what jokers

    I rang 999 last year, time 7.00am, month January, the conversation went something like this -

    Operator - "Emergency, how can I help you?"

    Me - "Hello I want to report a car parked facing southbound on the outside lane of the northbound carriage of the M18"

    Operator - "Can you say that again, I wasn't listening"

    Me -" I want to report a car facing southbound in the outside lane of the northbound M18, it's about 1/2 miles north of Junction 3"

    Operator - "Did you get the make and color of the car?"

    Me - "I'm a passenger in a car heading souhbound at 70 mph but you'll probably find that it's the only car facing southbound n the northbound carriagewa"

    Operator - " Oh yes it was reported 15 minutes ago"

    Me - "But the Police Station is only 5 minutes away at normal speeds"

    Operator - "Yes sir, is there anything else I can do to help you?"

    Funnily this call is never shown as one of those time wasting calls.

    btw I never did find out what make and model he car was.

  47. Anonymous Coward


    @ coward

    You've trained your wife to get the message across in the first sentence?

    You should write a book. Then retire.

  48. night troll
    Paris Hilton

    @ Goldmine!

    That's nothing. My wife gets the message across with out saying anything, just the look is enough. ;-)

    Paris because she gets the message across with a different kind of look!

  49. Herby

    Wrong numbers

    Yes, We've all had them. It is more amusing to actually KNOW what number they were dialing. At one time I had a number that was close to a real estate guru (bozo, I could care less). I was tired of people calling me up so I just went ahead and confirmed all the golf dates he had. It didn't take long before the guy handed out the correct number. I have also done this with a eatery, taking reservations (lots) for 7pm or so. So much BOFH type fun!!

    Yes, here (USA) we have the 311 service (non-urgent alternative) and 911 (emergency). A local late night talk show plays the "idiot tapes" every once in a while. Quite interesting.

  50. skeptical i

    911 calls

    In my town (southwestern Amurka), residents are told to call 911 for *anything* that looks suspicious since the police statistics database is fed by 911 call logs (e.g., a call to my buddy at the station to send someone 'round to look after some hooligans might get action but won't become part of the police statistics). People working the 911 call center will then transfer non- emergency calls to the police (or whoever) to free up the line. Might save aggravation on all sides for the South Wales 999 folks to develop a system in which "junk" calls can be quickly shifted out of the emergency call stream to a non- critical "warm line" with repeat offenders getting a fine or other disincentive.

  51. Daniel Beardsall

    @ F Cage

    I believe the opening statement in question here is the one the police operators give you when you actually get put through, not the initial 999 operators' greeting. That is still to ask the nature of the emergency and which service the caller requires. After which they will be transferred to the police operator, who will give them this new greeting.

    Also, is your first name Faraday?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    999 response

    I think there should be an easy to remember non-emergency number. Although, that would require a certain judgement about whether the situation was an emergency or not.

    Case in point:

    I was driving along the A38 from Cornwall. I was behind a car for sometime, and after a while, it became apparent that the car was travelling forwards, but was actually pointing towards the right hand side of the road. It took a while to be sure I wasn't imagining this, but it was obvious the driver kept having to correct the trajectory to keep the car going forwards.

    Now this wasn't an emergency as such, no-one was dying no-one was trapped or on fire - but, how long before the situation changed into something serious ? *

    So, after a deep breath, I called 999 on the cab phone and asked for the police. I explained the situation and after giving as much detail as possible, they kept me on the line while I followed this car for about 10 or 15 miles, me giving them updates on where I was. Eventually, I lost sight of the car, as it speeded up to over 60mph on a dual carriageway, even though it was obviously defective. But the operator said it was ok as there was a car behind it now. Sure enough, I came over a hill and found the car had been pulled over and an irate looking driver was standing at the side of the road waving his hands about. Job done. I comforted myself with the thought that the police had probably waited until they were sure that the car was displaying the symptoms I had described before pulling it in.

    Anyway, about 20 minutes later, the phone rang, and it was the police operator. Oh shit, I thought, I'm going to get done for wasting police time or something. But no, he was just letting me know the outcome ! Apparently, the car was damaged in some way, and the driver was a "trader" ** who was trying to get the vehicle back to somewhere he could get it fixed. I was thanked for my call, and went about my business.

    Overall, I would classify the whole experience as bizarre.

    So the police do take action if they can, and are even quite polite about it.

    * I have been driving a car that showed no bad symptoms, which, when I went around a left hand bend, suddenly lost steering because the right hand steering joint broke. I immediately hit the brakes, but because the RH front wheel was no longer attached to the steering, it flew back against the wheel arch and locked, causing the car to spin in a clockwise direction, right across the path of oncoming traffic. So bearing this in mind, I felt that the situation could easily become an emergency, and why wait until someone was dead or injured just to prove my point.

    ** Surely a trader would have more sense than to drive a car that could let go at any moment, at speeds of over 60mph on public roads. That's why they have recovery trucks.

  53. Nathanael Bastone
    Thumb Up

    @Steve Wehrle

    Non-PC outsourcing? How about Non-PC IT PC outsourcing? That way all the help desk operators could let of steam in their break times with willing targets and no repercussions. It would decrease helpdesk stress levels more effectively than any stress releaving toy.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @999 what jokers

    Couldn't agree more.

    I was the victim of a violent (left me nearly unconcious) asault by a mugger. I dialled 999, as did a householder who eventually came out to help me.

    The police phoned up (not turned up!!!) 24 hours (a whole bloody day!) later and asked me if I wanted to pursue the case.

    When I told them "No, I wanted you to turn up at the time and catch the f*cker" they were surprised. If they're going to have an emergency number, they should treat every call as an emergency.

    Before anybody suggests that they were too busy answering frivolous calls, I did ask them if they'd been busy the day before. The reply?

    "Er, no. Why?"

  55. johnB

    999, Bah !

    Up here in Newcastle, the 101 service is being discontinued for lack of use.

    So that's back to 999 for us.

  56. Probe

    @ Stratman

    There are many different species of hamsters throughout the world and most hamsters inhabit semi-desert areas where they live in burrows.

    Not a lot of rain in hamsterland - just because it's an animal doesn't mean it can survive outside in the UK.

  57. Tom Oliva

    If they don't answer...........

    A direct personal experience - 27 minutes waiting for the super efficient Wiltshire Constabulary call centre to answer the phone - is it any wonder that folk call 999 out of frustration?

  58. Gilbert Wham


    > Putting a hamster out in the rain is animal cruelty.

    So you think that in the wild they have little wellies, plastic macs and sou'westers?

    No, but they do live in the desert...

  59. Dafydd Lawrence

    @ The Other Steve

    "1 in 10 ?

    If they think that having only one in ten of their calls being a complete waste of time and resources is bad, they've obviously never worked in IT support !"

    Yeah, I think I might use their advice and get the support staff to answer the phone with "Hello IT Support, please state the nature of your emergency"

  60. nagyeger


    Hamsters able to live in UK?

    No problem. UK climate is quite mild compared to most places in central Europe.

    OK, some species might like it drier, but hamsters are local here - central Transylvania [its a real region, look it up!] - and I've seen one a lot bigger than anything in a UK petshop. Lots of rain, good thick clay soil, and the snow that came before Christmas took about 3 weeks to melt. Not saying they're stupid enough to be above ground much, but the climate isn't much of a problem in itself.

    (alien, because no vampires near here)

  61. Steve Medway

    Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.....

    In other news a mother-in-law was murdered on the 19th day of her stay with her daughter......

    The man charged with her killing was recently quoted as saying "Well, I did try to call the police. I knew the situation had already got out of control but they just told me I was making a prank call"

  62. Anonymous Coward


    Where ever they live I doubt that in their natural habitat, during a rainstorm, they would be sitting in a cage (I assume in a cage; otherwise the little devil would vanish) with a deep plastic tray that will eventually fill up.

    Unless with the wellies they rigged it up with a snorkel.

    Granted, they could climb up the bars of the cage and cling on until the rain stops but this is in Wales, and it rains a lot there. Well, it was the last time I went.

    Depressed penguin icon, 'cos there isn't a depressed hamster icon.

  63. Gordon
    Thumb Down

    110 System

    110? The idea is good, but the vast majority if people haven't heard of it. What should have been done is a nationwide implimentation, followed by a major public information project. Adverts on TV, national news, appearing in EastEnders, punchy slogan etc etc so it would be as familiar to everyone as "118 118". It should have gone live on a particular date nationwide, and it should have been compulsorary for ALL police forces to involve themselves in it and answer the local calls. Launch it on the 1st of October (1/10) with nationwide coverage on news, and a catchy add campaign.

    Instead they just implimented the technology so nobody could say they hadn't made good on the promise, but never encouraged people to use it by actually telling them about it or anything. So it failed as cheaply and quietly as possible.

    Shame, really. Seems typical of large government communications projects, though!

  64. JC


    Big freakin' deal, if there isn't even enough pork in the budget to hire a couple operators to handle calls can't we just overclock those we have so they're 10% more efficient?

    For all we know, after that gal's boyfriend put the hamster out in the rain and she saw no other recourse, she flipped out (already there?) and took a butcher knife to him. The thing is, THEY don't know what the situation is from only a few seconds on the phone. Go ahead and send the police out, because while on the way there they are also surveying the path and deterring crime by their presence instead of only sitting in one place doing nothing but waiting for a call (that just came in).

    It'd be different if all our law enforcement officers were terribly overworked, but even if they were, taking a drive out to see about a wet hamster might be a nice break and a good laugh.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    999 Emergency which service?

    As a former BT operator, I've heard some of these calls myself.

    Especially remember an American who using a BT payphone said the screen said "999 CALLS ONLY" so he called 999. Took a few minutes for him to understand 999 is the same as 911, and expected me to find the location of a near by working payphone (!!)

    Oh! and the lovely old man who called 999 to complain about the police helicopter above his house, he insisted to be connected to the police, I really enjoyed listening to the arse kicking he got :-P

    But these days how difficult is to lookup the number for your local police, NHS Direct (for that lovely 999 call asking where the nearest open chemist was!) and store them in your mobile or landline phone book?

    But you have to be open-minded, I wasn't sure a little kid making a call was messing about until I asked him where his mum was - she was 'asleep' and pretty clear she was in trouble.

    But why not have a system were you get, press 1 for NHS Direct, press 2 for your local police, press 3 for 'you've missed the train' can you get a police car to stop the train so you can get on it, press 4 for 'pissed army bloke who calls 999 to be patched through to the millitary emergency system' and who doesn't seem to know the normal number for his army base or the military police, press 5 for the speaking clock, press 6 for lost the remote control, press 7 for husband has forgotten my birthday/anniversary oooooh! and press 8 for why is there a police car at my next door neighbour - what's the gossipp?!?!?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    110 System

    I don't think 110 is a good idea, far too close to 112 (the same as 999)

  67. Matt Bradley


    Couple of things.

    1] When a woman rings the police about their boyfriend, whether it be hamster related or otherwise, I think it is reasonable to expect the police to take it seriously (At least at first). There may be more than just the current reported incident to take into account. An indivdual in a state of distress may be incapable of properly expressing themselves. IT would be dificult for a good Emergency services operator to make this judgement without further questioning of the caller. I do hope this is what happened.

    2] The idea of having a recorded messge is ALMOST right, if you ask me. WHat wrong with having some kind of triage scenario? If the caller turns out to be a non-emergency, just stick them on hold to the non-emergency line, and get on to the next call.

    Requiring the individual to make decisions about what is and what isn't an emergency, and to remember 2 or 3 different numbers in order to ensure they make the right call, is ALWAYS going to lead to some problems. The best thing the emergency service can do in these cases is ensure that the calls get redirected quickly and efficiently with the minimum of fuss.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Tawakalna

    It the useless lazy t*ssers that make up a significant section of the public who can't be arsed to use a phone book that are the reason you don't always get the response you think you're entitled to. That and the fact that the rest of the population are pissed as farts binge drinking and kicking the crap out of each other 24/7.

    When the UK does not have a population comprised largely of complete halfwits ("dowotwelikies") or over-educated herberts who use their intelligence to either justify the indefensible (usually by lying) or finding ever more elaborate ways to enriching themselves courtesy of the halfwits (National Lottery, MP's expenses, Big Brother etc), the police can concentrate on real crime, like on the Bill!

  69. Steve Roper

    Dual-number system works in Australia

    Here in South Australia, we have a dual-number system backed up with a massive public information campaign ("Think first, then dial" etc). Our emergency number (000) is for life-threatening emergencies, for all other calls for police attendance you dial 11 4444. My experience with this system is that if you dial 000 and report an emergency (e.g. a car accident) the police are on the scene usually in less than 5 minutes. The 11 4444 number, on the other hand, generally brings a cop on the scene around 45 minutes to an hour later. It seems to have worked, since the police last year reported a significant reduction in frivolous 000 calls. The important thing with a dual-number system is that the alternative number needs to be widely publicised with a clear and simple system for the public to decide which number to call - in our case, its "if a life is in danger ring 000, otherwise ring 11 4444". In tandem with such a campaign, the dual number system does work.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Exploding hampsters...

    ...are the next big terror threat. Do not mock.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Wrong Numbers

    There is a Hamster here that loves the rain .. (bottom left)

    Anyway to the point, wrong numbers are too good to waste, I used to work in a Network Operations Center, that had a very similar number to a popular airline that I will not mention, for fear of being sued by a bearded, jumper sporting balloonist.

    Of a night, I would often receive calls from people wishing to book flights, and more often than not, an explanation that they had dialed the wrong number was insufficient.

    I found the best way to deal with these people was to go along with it, booking their flights for them over the internet, using the details they supplied.

    Of course, to relieve my tedium I would often book the flight with an alternative airline, ensure they were seated separately from their partner, and specify Kosher Gluten Free meals.

  72. Paul Sims


    "Publishing a list of the most idiotic calls will just turn it into a contest, won't it? Just imagine the bragging rights among your peers....

    At least that is how it seems to work for the Darwin awards :-)"

    Surely the winners of a Darwin are no longer around to enjoy breathing, never mind bragging rights!

  73. Alex Read

    2 solutions off the top of my head - I should be a politician

    So fine each pathetic timewaster 500-1000 each call & put this money back into having proper police on the streets or actually doing something about the crime in the UK.

    Alternatively, since each and every one of them is preventing resources from saving lives, charge each with attempted murder/manslaughter and put them into a selfish-git jail.

  74. Tim Lane

    I for one

    Welcome our Waterproof Hamstine Overlords

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine them but not on their phone bill

    Any idiot who dials 999 because he is too lazy, stupid, proud, ignorant or thick to not call his local police station or is unable to go look up the number in either Yellow Pages, the internet, 118 118 or the other multitude of services, for a non-emergency should be fined £100 at least.

    Just don't put it on the phone bill. They are complicated enough and the sort of people who do it either won't pay or call phone company call centres for weeks on end.

    On the spot fine dropped in a by a traffic warden will do the trick. They are used to dealing with complete tits already.

  76. David Paul Morgan

    We already have...

    101 here in Cardiff and it has been very useful in filtering out the crap calls to 999. Very useful for reporting street gangs, prostitutes, petty vandalism etc. Unfortunately, the Westminster Govt. is now stopping the funding and the WAG (Wales Assembly Govt.) don't have a replacement funding stream yet.

  77. Jason Aspinall

    Vital seconds?

    Sorry, while I appreciate there are dick'eads calling 999 because their pizza was delivered late and is now cold, I don't buy the claim "vital seconds" may be lost answering such calls...

    This sort of implies all lines could be busy, and you'll get an engaged tone calling 999. While I don't frequent calling 999 myself, I've never *ever* heard of anyone not getting through on a 999 call cuz some operator has put their line on "do not disturb" while they set about cutting their toe nails.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    And the bread were 'ovis too!

    When I was a child my parents were very clear that you got into trouble for dialling 999 unless it was an emergency. Was that ever the case?

This topic is closed for new posts.