On the front line with South Yorkshire Police. This episode reveals the challenges of dealing with serial time-wasting calls and increasing numbers of non-emergency cases helping vulnerable people, that stretch the force to the limit. The emergency call centre receives 50,000 calls each month – 30% more than 10 years ago – and the number of non-emergency calls has also increased. During the same period funding has sharply decreased. Serial callers represent a major problem: currently the centre is monitoring 50 individuals, five of whom are facing prosecution: in some cases they receive dozens a day from one caller, while dealing with one call every 12 seconds at their busiest. There’s also a marked increase in calls from people with mental health problems, in a state of crisis, who feel that they have no one else to turn to. PCs Jack Mitchell and Ernie MPundu respond to a man reporting an assault in progress, but find him in a drunk and drugged state, hoping for a lift home. He asks them to collect his cannabis stash first, and is promptly arrested on suspicion of possession. ‘Don’t ask police to collect your drugs,’ says Mitchell, ‘it ain’t gonna end well!’ PCs Matt Grocott and Craig Mooreare called to a residential address but aren’t allowed in. They’re asked to return 20 minutes later, but the same thing happens, and this time with all three emergency services, who have to force entry to ensure the well-being of the aggressive occupant. ‘It’s frustrating when we respond to a caller but they don’t open the door,’ says Grocott, ‘but our policy stays the same. We need to see that they’re okay. We’re becoming mental health nurses.’ And on a cold rainy night in Sheffield city centre, police are called to a poignant and distressing case, to help a confused elderly lady suffering from dementia who can’t find her way home.
What’s Your Emergency? – Tuesday 9pm on Channel 4