POLICE have warned the public to think before they dial in an effort to reduce the number of inappropriate calls made to 999.

Shocking figures show roughly 80 per cent of calls made to the number did not require an emergency response and should instead have been directed to 101.

This equates to around 255,000 inappropriate calls every year and inhibits Thames Valley Police when it comes to responding to genuine emergencies.

Gavin MacMillan, senior delivery manager for the Contact Centres, said: “We are an emergency service and will always prioritise answering 999 calls.

“999 is a quick way to get through to the police in an emergency, not a quick way to get through to us about anything.

"To a minority of people calling us it is viewed as being a more convenient option, a way of jumping the queue.

“The video we have created illustrates a very real issue, anyone using 999 inappropriately is delaying us in answering a genuine emergency call.

“I urge people to think before you dial. If it is a situation where anyone is in harm’s way or a crime in progress then it is absolutely the right thing to call 999.

“If it is not an emergency but it is a matter for police then please go online or call 101.”

Last summer, Thames Valley Police launched its new website which now allows all crimes and road traffic collisions to be reported online.

It also includes a 'Contact Us' form for general queries and requests for advice, as well as forms to update an existing crime report or request contact from an officer when they are next on duty.