A woman called the 999 emergency line to tell police she had paid the wrong amount for a bottle of fruit squash at a supermarket.
Northumbria Police are now reminding the public to consider the needs of others when calling 999 in a non-emergency situation.
The Force has released an audio clip of a woman calling the emergency line to report an issue with the supermarket Morrison’s after paying the wrong amount for a bottle of fruit squash.
When told by the call handler that her issue was certainly not a police matter, the caller then confessed the reason she rang was because she was unable to get through to the supermarket’s customer service line.
In the audio of the phone call the woman's voice has been distorted to protect her identity.
Chief Superintendent Supt Neil Hutchison from the Communications and Operations department at Northumbria Police said: “Calls like these might seem harmless and even funny, but they create a huge demand on the staff working in the communications centre who could otherwise be busy dealing with genuine emergencies.
“Hundreds of calls come into our communications centres every day and we want to be able to deliver an outstanding service to everyone who gets in touch.
“We hope that the public can work with us so that we can make sure those people unfortunate enough to be involved in serious incidents can receive police assistance as quickly as possible.
“We would also like to make it clear to people who call our emergency lines and waste police time that their behaviour is completely unacceptable.”
Northumbria Police receive around one million calls to the non-emergency number every year but roughly 15 per cent of those are about non-police matters.
Similar warnings were issued to the public over the festive period, ahead of New Year’s Eve, which always proves a busy night for the Force’s call handlers. This year a total of 796 emergency 999 calls and 365 101 calls came in between 7pm New Year’s Eve and 7am New Year’s Day.
Police are also asking the public to consider reporting non-emergency incidents online – and to only call if they need urgent assistance from police.
C/Supt Hutchison added: “We would also ask you to consider visiting our website where we have details of other agencies who may be more appropriate to help deal with your query. You will also find an online reporting form where you can submit a crime report without having to call us.”
For more information on what matters the police can deal with, and to report an incident online, click here.
If you have a non-emergency call, you can report this online click here.