New number

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am

The fact that only 12 per cent of calls to the emergency 999 hotline are actual emergencies is entirely the fault of the system.

Everybody knows that you call 999 in an emergency. But what number do you call if it is not an emergency? You see traffic lights out of action and they are causing a traffic jam. You see people acting suspiciously late at night. You want to complain about excessive noise from a building site on a Sunday. These are not emergencies as such, but no other phone number springs to mind.

There are plenty of responsible citizens who would call and report such matters if it was easy to do and there wasn't the prospect of hours of paperwork involved.

If the administration sets up another hotline number, such as 333, for instance, then all non-emergency calls could be received. With this system, you would get the general public used to the idea of communicating with the administration, because it was much more user-friendly and the Government was doing a more effective job for the people it is employed to serve.