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Omicron expected to cause delays to non-emergency number, Police Scotland says

By John Davidson

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Emergency 999 calls will always be prioritised, Police Scotland said.
Emergency 999 calls will always be prioritised, Police Scotland said.

Police are warning that there may be longer waiting times for 101 calls due to the rise in coronavirus cases linked to the Omicron variant.

Police Scotland said it was taking all necessary steps to protect the emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 services in response to the increasing levels of Covid.

The 999 emergency service is prioritised at all times but, the force says, due to the significant effects of the Omicron virus, the public should be aware to expect longer waiting times for 101 calls to be answered.

Police Scotland said it has well-established plans in place to ensure resilience for 999 and 101 services and measures are in place to ensure demand can be met within its contact centres.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “The new Omicron Covid variant is having a significant effect on the country and Police Scotland is included in that.

“We, like any other organisation, are dealing with a large number of absences due to the high transmissibility of Omicron. However, I would like to reassure people that the 999 and 101 service is here and is ready to assist as we face this new challenge in the pandemic.

“We are taking all steps necessary to protect these critical services and we will continue to prioritise our critical 999 emergency calls to ensure we can assist those who need us most, as quickly as possible.

“However, we also need to make people aware that the serious effects of Omicron is likely to impact our non-emergency 101 service. This means there will be longer waiting times for those calls to be answered.

“We have robust plans in place to maintain staffing levels throughout our contact centres to protect the 999 service.

“I want to emphasise that if you dial 999 for assistance, we will always respond. However, I would urge everyone to play their part by following guidance on the use of 999 and 101 services.

“The 999 number is for emergencies only and should be used to call for urgent police assistance when there is an immediate danger to life or safety, or if a serious crime is happening right now.

“Non-urgent issues can also be reported online using the Contact Us form on the Police Scotland website.

“However, policing, so often the service of first and last resort, will never step away from those who are in crisis. So please, if you need us, call us.”

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