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.