Ahead of one of the busiest times of year for those working in the Sussex Police Contact Centre, the force is reminding people to ‘Make The Right Call’ this Christmas and New Year.

While the majority of calls received during the festive period are genuine emergencies or issues, not all are matters for the police – including one man who called to say his snowman had disappeared.

The force is urging the public to help them ensure the 999 and 101 phone lines are kept free and available for those who genuinely need help, by not calling with issues that are not for police to resolve.

Chief Inspector Anita Best said: “Our dedicated team of Sussex Police contact staff will be sacrificing their own time with loved ones to be on hand 24/7 over the festive period to help those in need.

“We are asking the public to play their part in helping our contact staff do their jobs effectively, by not keeping the phone lines busy with calls that are not a police matter.

“Unfortunately, we do continue to receive nuisance calls and this could delay help being provided to someone in serious danger. We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who is persistently wasting our time and potentially putting vulnerable people in Sussex at risk.”

Sussex Police is reminding the public that 999 should only be used for genuine emergencies where there is a risk of harm to life or a crime in progress, and 101 for non-emergency police matters. Members of the public can also report non-emergency crimes online – these reports are triaged and assessed in the same way as 101 calls.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “The Force’s Make the Right Call campaign highlights this message and I would like to reiterate it: please be sure to contact the police for a genuine reason and using the right method.

“Any holiday period is always a busy time for the emergency services and this Christmas, when staff numbers may be low due to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that lines are kept clear for genuine calls to Sussex Police.”