Dubai’s police handled a whopping average of nearly 8,000 calls daily on their emergency number 999 last year but most of them were not for emergency as some of the callers just wanted to enquire about a restaurant contact number.
One man called that number to say that he could not top up his mobile phone by a card he bought from a shop while another phoned the police from a shopping mall to tell them he believes his car was stolen. It emerged later that he forgot where he parked his car in the multi-story parking near that mall.
Another man called 999 and sounded much worried when he said that he lost his wife inside a busy shopping mall in the city. Police and security men at the mall were alerted and after a brief search, she was found shopping a few metres away from her husband.
“Imagine the pressure on the emergency number 999 as we received an average 7,956 calls daily last year but most of them are not for emergency,” said Brigadier Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, deputy director of the police department for operations.
Quoted by the Dubai-based Emarat Al Youm Arabic language daily, he said that police received nearly 2.9 million calls on that number in 2014 but that only about 530,000 calls were emergency, or nearly 18 per cent of the total.
“The problem with this deluge of contacts is that those which are not emergency calls could obstruct our efforts to deal with emergency,” he said, adding that many callers were fined for abusing the police emergency number.
He said police had just introduced another number 901 for general enquiries to ease pressure on the emergency number 999.
“We received about 95,650 calls on 901 last year and we hope those who need just general enquiries will call us on that number. We hope this will ease pressure on the emergency number so our men can deal properly with urgent cases,” he said.