Crime in Britain, part 3: emergency calls

Ever wonder what it’s like handling emergency calls? You know, the pressure, the life-and-death situations, the idiot who calls because a parking meter ate his change?

Okay, I made up the parking meter, but the real stories are better. The Avon and Somerset Police took to Twitter in the hope that it would educate us about what the word emergency means. I’m not convinced it will, but it’s been fun.

For all I know, they weren’t hoping to change things but just wanted to keep themselves amused.

Anyway, since I’ve been writing about the serious side of crime lately, I thought I’d let you know what emergency calls are like before I move on to some other topic.

Let’s start with the man who reported being chased by a vicious badger. He dangled his keys at it and scared it away, he said, and he wasn’t sure where it had gone but he thought maybe someone ought to know about it. Just to put it on record, I guess, so in case it attacked again it would have a prior—well, not conviction exactly. Convictions are only possible if you’re human, so let’s just say something vaguely related to a prior conviction.

Relevant photo. I couldn't help myself. I had no idea what a badger looked like before I moved here, so I thought I ought to toss one in. This is from Wikimedia, taken by Prosthetic Head, and don't ask me what that means. I'm only repeating what the data says. It's scarier than the badger if you ask me.

Relevant photo. I couldn’t help myself. I had no idea what a badger looked like before I moved here, so I thought I ought to toss one in. This is from Wikimedia, taken by Prosthetic Head, and don’t ask me what that means. I’m only repeating what the data says. It’s scarier than the badger if you ask me.

He and the call handler agreed that he should maybe call animal control, and that got him out of her hair. Then the story was tweeted (and probably press released), and both the BBC and the Western Morning News picked it up, and even though I’m adding my miniature noise to the uproar I do kind of feel sorry for the guy.

Okay, moment of conscience over. What are the other calls like?

A man called because a gull stole his sandwich, and a woman called because a guest house owner refused to cook her a breakfast.

Let’s assume she was a guest there.

A caller asked to speak to the queen. Someone reported being splashed by a puddle. That makes it sound like the puddle was the active agent, which means I could safely insert vicious, as in splashed by a vicious puddle. Someone else complained that a taxi seat belt was too tight. A man found a melon on his doorstep, cut into slices. That’s the melon, not the doorstep. A woman reported that Mary Berry kidnapped her. Mary Berry, for those of you who don’t live in the U.K., is a TV presenter. She bakes, and she’s neither young nor threatening looking. If she kidnapped you, you could expect cake and a nice cup of tea. You might, however, have to wear an apron and learn to use a whisk. But I’m getting sidetracked. A drunk asked for a ride home.  A woman reported a wisp in her house. A man reported that his mobile phone provider was robbing him because he had no service.

It’s a dangerous world out there.

The police tweeted this kind of stuff for twenty-four hours at #ASP24, where you can still find it—or could last time I checked; I’m not sure how long these things hang around. There’s also some lovely insanity mixed into the general self-promotion if you go to @ASPoliceLIVE. I can’t put those in as links because Twitter links don’t work. Who knew that? Raise your hands please.

Even before I knew that, though, I knew they’d wreck the sentence.

And with that, I’ll wish you all a safe and happy weekend. Try not to call cops, the fire department, or an ambulance, no matter how vicious the puddles are where you live.

71 thoughts on “Crime in Britain, part 3: emergency calls

  1. I love badgers… this is not the main point of the story I appreciate that, but seeing a picture of one made me smile…

    on an unrelated note I just googled Mary Berry, I know who she is but I wanted to know what she did before she was a tv person…apparently she baked…anyway…Mary Berry’s website is blocked by me work Web admin under the category Religion!!

    I guess cake worship is bigger than anyone thought…

    I just thought I would share that with you, despite it being not entirely relevant!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Actually, being splashed by a motorist driving past through a puddle IS an offence. “Driving without due care and consideration…” I think is the charge. Not sure anyone has ever been prosecuted for it, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know that, but the wording didn’t involve a car, just a puddle. I’d assume a car was involved, but (in the spirit of keeping this as strange as possible) we have to work with what we’re told.


  3. Over here, the police do a bad job of publicizing the “non-emergency” numbers, so people call 911 for just about everything. It rained pretty hard last night, so I’ll be on the lookout for vicious puddles when I walk the dog. Badgers can be tough fighters. If you have vicious puddles, I can only imagine what your badgers are like.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point about the non-emergency numbers. The emergency ones are short and easy to remember. The others? Are you kidding?

      As the for badgers, they grew up scrapping with those puddles, so yeah, they’re tough. The ones that survive, that is. You be careful out there with your dog.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I use to work from a BT contact centre that took the emergency 999 calls and sat for a day with one of the operators. They regularly get calls from people who’ve lost their glasses or keys, and one who had a doctor’s appointment but couldn’t find the surgery. However, amongst all this were some very traumatic calls – a young person who had been abused and was totally distraught, an elderly lady who thought her husband was having a heart attack. It’s a heck of a job having to be calm when faced with despair. One of them told me how he helped deliver a baby over the phone – the woman giving birth on one end of the line, the paramedic on the other end giving instructions to the operator. The idiots do break up the tension – but they also take up a line someone else desperately needs to get through on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought of the contribution the idiots would make by breaking the tension, but I can imagine that after a traumatic call you’d just want to slap someone who was wasting your time.


  5. Back to that being kidnapped by Mary Berry. If that were to happen, what kind of treats might a fellow expect? If I bring my own manly apron, can I wear it or must I wear what is provided? These questions are critical to whether I put up a fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m thinking of calling 911 because our temps are approaching triple digits. NOT supposed to happen this close to the coast. Somebody needs to DO something about that before I melt.


  7. There was a hilarious consumer complaint call from a middle-aged Memphis woman who summoned police to retrieve $25 from a drug dealer who had sold her some very poor quality crack cocaine. She wasn’t high or deranged – she spoke to the incredulous dispatcher with the aggrieved certainty of one who has been wronged, as in tricked into buying a damaged car tire or ten pounds of bad beef. She gave the 911 operator her address without the slightest hesitation, and urged him to send a squad car ASAP before the dealer had a chance to get far.
    She was waiting in her front yard (this part was filmed) to wave the cops down to give them the defective crack. By then, a small crowd of neighbors had gathered, and watched in gaping astonishment as the determined woman described the dealer and instructed the police, “Just get my $25 back, and I won’t press charges. He went that way.”
    At that point, both the crowd and the two cops burst into laughter. As she was handcuffed and whisked away, the woman sputtered in genuine astonishment and indignation “He stole MY money! Wait, hold up here – HE stole MY money!”
    The camera focused on one of the neighbors, a fashionable young man with neat braids and elegant baggy pants. He just shook his head.
    “Don’t ask me,” he laughed. “I have absolutely no idea. Absolutely none.”
    He shook his head again and walked away.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s true, though! The only explanations I can offer are
        1) This was her brain’s very rare way of experiencing the fulll-blown delusions common to all crack users.
        2) I didn’t see the intro and this was footage of a practical joke.
        3) It was way too old to be one of those clever videos that try to fool people on U Tube
        4) Oh, I remember! I hallucinated it myself while high on crack

        Never mind.*

        *Joking! I promise.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Hmm. We’ll have think about it. Here’s one idea:
            On trains, where passengers mold themselves against the rear wall at night and press their faces to the back window – they gaze at themselves, as well as at the passing night. We move quietly down the aisle, reflected in every window as we ask them a whispered question:
            “What do you see?”

            Or maybe a Google survey?

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s haunting.

              I spent a lot of time with my nose pressed to the front window of New York subway trains. I don’t really know what I saw–tracks, lights, motion, blurred bits of myself–but it was absorbing.


  8. Those are some ridiculous calls the emergency line gets. Bird stole a man’s sandwich and she thought it appropriate, unbelievable. He could have just got another sandwich which couldn’t have been that difficult.

    Cake. Cake. Yum.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Dealing with the public, U.K. style | Notes from the U.K.

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