Contacting the police – In an emergency




Frequently Asked Questions

Contacting the police – In an emergency

Members of the public are asked to phone 999 only in an emergency. What do you regard as an emergency?

An emergency is an incident which requires an IMMEDIATE police response e.g.

  • Where there is danger to life

  • Where there is a risk of serious injury

  • Where a crime is in progress or is about to happen

  • Where an offender is still at the scene or has just left

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Contacting the police – Non-emergencies

What number should you ring if it is not an emergency?

The police force main central switchboard number. To find your police force switchboard number visit: Non-emergency minor crime notification.

This number will connect you to police headquarters where switchboard operators will ask the nature of your call so they can put you through to someone who can help you.

The website, allows you to e-mail the police with a query and it also allows you to report certain non-urgent

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Contacting the police – Phoning your local station

Can I still phone my local police station direct?

The police prefer people to call the main central switchboard number of the police force they require for the following two main reasons:

  • People sometimes call local police stations to report things which are really emergencies.

  • Emergencies are handled centrally by trained staff and it will only delay a response if you contact a local police station.

Staff on main switchboards are available 24 hours a day and are trained to recognise emergency calls and transfer them quickly to the Force Communications Centre where details
can be taken and officers dispatched to the scene if necessary.

Many police stations are not open 24 hours a day. If you rely on phoning a local police station you could experience unnecessary delays in reporting matters to the police.

If you telephone the main number the police will know who is the best person to deal with your call.

If your call is put through to one of the operations centres, you may be asked to leave details on a voicemail system if all the operators are busy. Please do not be concerned;
voicemail messages are checked regularly and, if necessary, someone will get back to you.

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Contacting the police – Contacting individual officers

How can I contact an officer or leave a message for him/her?

Call the police force’s central switchboard and operators will do their best to help you.

If an alternative person is on duty who may be able to help, the police may transfer your call to them.

If you have the officer’s collar number and his or her full name please tell the switchboard staff. Although the police have the latest technological switchboard system they
also have many members of staff in the organisation – who often move between stations at short notice. Therefore any information you can provide the operator with will make it
easier to track down the person you want.

If the officer has access to voicemail or an answerphone we may put you through to this and you can leave a message. (Please note you should not use voicemail for reporting

Do bear in mind that most officers work shifts and may not be available to return your call for a number of days. Please allow time for them to respond to your message.

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Dangerous dogs

My next door neighbour’s dog is very vicious and children in the area are scared of it. What can we do?

Under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act an offence could be committed if the dog is dangerously out of control in a public place. Even if it is not in a public place, but in a place
where the dog is permitted to be and it bites someone or puts a person in fear, the owner could still be prosecuted. In this instance you should telephone the police.

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