A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police has claimed that unnecessary 999 calls are hampering real efforts to provide life-or-death emergency cover in the capital.
"Too many people are being, to be honest, a little selfish about the emergency services, thinking we are there to come and help them out whenever they get into a spot of bother."
He then went on to give a list of genuine 999 calls from the last 12 months:
"In August, a young man in Balham was stabbed in the arm during a mugging. Although his mobile phone had been stolen, he was able to persuade a passing pedestrian to call 999 on his behalf to request an ambulance and the police. On attending the incident, police discovered that he hadn't lost much blood and would probably have been able to get to the hospital on his own using public transport. Both the young man and the older man who offered the use of his phone were given suspended sentences in October for wasting police time.
In May, a housewife in Camberwell called the police after a gang of local youths broke into her car, set it on fire and started dancing around it in some kind of freakish rights of may ceremony. In this case the woman was let off with a stern warning and reminded that issues like this need to be taken up with her insurers directly.
And in September, a young woman from Islington called 999 to report a sexual assault. On attending the scene, officers were disappointed to discover the woman was overweight and highly unattractive. They explained that it simply wasn't possible for anyone to want to assault her, and warned her that if she repeated her fantasy allegations she could be arrested.
Unfortunately she made another prank call in October, saying she had taken a whole bottle of sleeping tablets. Thankfully our control room had been alerted to her antics and we avoided wasting Police time in this incident. She was again warned not to call 999 with such trivialities and, thankfully, the message seems to have gotten through as we have not received any further contact from this particular woman.