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One-third of 911 calls not emergency-related, London police estimate

Norfolk County OPP say the girl dialed 911 after being told to clean her room. Kativ / Getty Images

London police are reminding residents that 911 should only be called in the event of an emergency.

This after a recent police estimate found around one-third of all 911 calls received by the force are not emergency-related.

Though police will sometimes make public more amusing non-emergency 911 calls to issue reminders about calling the line for frivolous matters — like when an Elgin, Ont., woman called 911 because her pizza was late, or when a Colorado boy sought help with a math question — city police say the sheer number of non-emergency calls they receive constitutes a public safety concern.

“It is to the point where we are concerned that those with a real emergency are either not going to get through or will be delayed in getting through because someone has dialled 911 for an inappropriate issue,” said Staff Sgt. Mary Ellen Costa of the London police communications section in a statement.

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Police say between January and November, they received 171,510 calls to 911, an increase of nearly 11 per cent from last year. By London police’s estimate, a little over 57,000 of those calls were non-emergency-related.

“There are lots of amusing examples of calls that we receive that are clearly not an emergency but there is nothing funny about the fact that our 911 operators are dealing with a huge volume of calls that they should not be receiving in the first place.”

A list of what constitutes a call to 911 or to the non-emergency line can be found on the London police website.

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