A staggering 80 per cent of 999 calls made by people in Milton Keynes are not an emergency, said police today.
They have published an example of one such time-wasting call, where a man dialled 999 to complain about a "putrid chicken" bought from Tesco.
The man went into great detail about the offending bird - and even asked police if they could send a car round to take it back to Tesco.
Such inappropriate use of 999 could delay the emergency services responding to those who need help immediately, say police.
Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt 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."
He added: “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.”
101 is the contact number for Thames Valley Police for all non-emergency situations and enquiries. However, ppeople should always consider if their 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.
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 four hours of it being received.