999 caller raises concerns over ‘life or death’ police response to anti-social behaviour

Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack
Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack
  • Leigh Park man criticises 999 policy of ‘matter of life and death’ situations only
  • Call made after group of teenagers behave destructively in Greywell precinct
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A BLUNT response from police has alarmed a man who is concerned about anti-social behaviour.

Mark Webb, 62, telephoned 999 after a group of teenagers caused trouble outside his home in Leigh Park.

Caretaker Mark, who lives above the Greywell precinct, called police after he saw two groups throwing objects and hitting each other with sticks.

He said: ‘The operator said to me “is it a situation of life and death?”

‘When I said no, she said “unless this is a matter of life and death I cannot take this call and you have to call 101”.

‘She hung up after I asked “are you just responding to life and death matters?” She said “yes, that is all I can take”.

Although Mr Webb said that a second 999 operator was more patient, he felt ‘gobsmacked’ about the policy.

‘It is getting to a point where it is like letting the cowboys take over Dodge City’, he said.

‘I would like some clarification on what police actually deal with, because there seem to be grey areas.’

A Hampshire police spokesperson said: ‘We received a call at 6.36pm on Monday, July 25 to a report of a group 10 young people being noisy in the Greywell precinct area of Havant.

‘No crime was reported. The call was logged and the neighbourhood policing team were made aware.

‘We would always promote the correct use of the 999 emergency number, where possible and appropriate.

‘Police should only be called using the 999 number in an emergency when there is a danger to life, a crime is in progress or when an offender is still or has only just left the scene.

‘We would encourage anyone who has phoned us and felt unsatisfied with the service to make a formal complaint so that the circumstances can be fairly and promptly reviewed.’