Charging for 999 calls is not the answer

Sir, At a time when every aspect of policing is under scrutiny I find it astounding that a serving police officer, Sergeant David Hamilton, of Tayside Police, has suggested that 999 calls should be charged for.

As a retired police officer who served for more than 30 years, I am fully aware of the number of 999 calls that are received at police operation control rooms which could be deemed to be “non-emergency”. This, unfortunately, is all part and parcel of the 999 system and it should be accepted that to many members of the public the call they are making will be a genuine emergency in their mind.

While it may be annoying to the person dealing with the calls within the control room, we must remember that is what they are there for and they should very quickly be able to ascertain whether or not the call needs to be dealt with as an emergency and deal with it accordingly.

I accept there are also a large number of calls made that are not emergencies and should not have been made. However, I am sure that charging for 999 calls is not the answer.

This system is in place for those genuine callers who need to talk to someone instantly, something not always achieved by going through normal channels. It is difficult enough to encourage members of the public to call the police and by charging for these calls we stand the risk of chasing even more away.

So unless some other way of filtering the incoming calls can be found, let us just leave it as it is and keep up the good work.

George Reid. 3 Bruce Road, Kinnesswood.

Emergency call proposal is short-sighted

Sir, With regard to Tayside Police Federation secretary David Hamilton’s suggestion that “those dialling the emergency services number should be charged 50p in a bid to slash the volume of calls received” I would like to register my concerns.

I do agree that deliberate attempts to disrupt the work of the emergency services should not be tolerated and that when people are caught abusing the service and putting the lives of others at risk they should be subject to the harshest penalties.

Yes, the 50p charge would deter people from abusing the service but I do not believe it is the right thing to do. I believe the proposal is short-sighted.

Those who are genuinely in need of the emergency services should be able to access them free of charge and be confident they will receive the appropriate professional service. This is fundamental in assuring the public that their safety is paramount at all times and above all other considerations.

Cllr Alexander J Stewart. Convener of Scrutiny, Perth and Kinross Council, Member of Tayside Joint Police Board.

Make public more aware

Sir, Your front page story on Thursday told of a proposal to charge 999 calls at a premium rate. The provision of free 999 calls is and has been a feature which has previously contributed to a GREAT Britain.

If Mr Hamilton feels there is an abuse of the 999 service then I would suggest that he should utilise some of the 1000 officers he represents to make the public aware of the correct use of this service.

A dilution of services across the country is not the answer to the problem, we need people to be aware of all aspects of life. We should be building a society to be proud of, not one where people will perhaps think twice and be wary of calling 999.

Willie Robertson. Forest Park Cottage, Lynton, Stanley.

Scottish or anti-English?

Sir, There are some weird people in Scotland who think that to be Scottish you have to be anti-English.

I’m not anti-French or anti-Dutch or anti-anything except, perhaps, silly North Brits.

A Mr Addison wrote to The Courier to say that he’s British because English people treated him like a human being 50 years ago and he even quotes “a man’s a man for a that”. Get a grip.

He might like to know that Burns wrote it in support of the French Revolution. Pity about Madame Guillotine, and Stalin and Mao Tse Tun.

Also, Hugh MacDiarmind said: “no wan in twenty kens a word Burns wrote but misapplied is abody’s property.”

Ian Lumsden, 53 Ravenscraig, Kirkcaldy.

The wrong message

Sir, I was alarmed to discover that Dundee University Students’ Association sells alcohol cheaper than food. For example, their website proudly boasts “Shots of spirits, alcopops and bottled beers can be bought for as little as £1”, while meals cost at least £4.

Alcohol is served at lunchtime, including cocktails (also cheaper than the food).

The Students’ Union has a duty to protect vulnerable and impressionable young people, who are strongly influenced by peer pressure. In practice they are giving young people the impression that drinking is the cool thing to do, even at lunchtime.

Michael Gallagher. 33 Precinct Street, Coupar Angus.