Calls for non-emergency alternative to 999

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THE Scottish Government faced calls today to set up a non-emergency telephone hotline as an alternative to 999.

Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Margaret Smith said such a move would ease pressure on the emergency services like the police and fire brigade.

A trial with a 101 non-emergency number has been running in Wales and has met with a 90 per cent approval rating. The Edinburgh West MSP said: "The emergency services come under particular strain during the festive period.

"It is absolutely critical that police time is not wasted following up non-emergency 999 calls.

"Non emergency numbers have been proven to reduce pressure on the 999 emergency number by siphoning off non-urgent calls about noisy neighbours, rubbish in the street and graffiti."

An Audit Scotland report earlier this year found that almost 50 per cent of 999 calls were for non-emergencies and that most people did not know who to contact if their call was non-urgent.

"A national, memorable, non-emergency number would help to solve the problem of non-urgent calls clogging up the 999 number and diverting valuable police resources," added Mrs Smith.

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