Half of 12m police dials nuisance calls

Trivial calls to the 110 number are a burden to police work. One caller complained of roosters crowing, another about treatment at a beauty salon.

Residents made over 12 million calls to the police at Shanghai Public Security Bureau’s 110 call center in 2017, with half of them trivial matters or false alarms, police said.

Among the calls was one where a resident complained about roosters crowing. Another caller complained about her eyebrow being shaved at a beauty salon.

However, the average of 33,000 calls a day was a decrease on 2016, when the daily average was 35,000.

Li Lin, the call center director, said the number of calls which resulted in officers being sent to the scene last year was the same as in 2016.

“This could mean that residents are now better informed of the rules as to in what circumstances they can call 110,” she said.

“The number 110 is supposed to deal with emergency situations only, and such calls are a burden to our work,” Li added.

About 60 operators are on duty at the call center at any one time, with 20 on standby, and each one of them can take up to 400 calls in a 12-hour shift.

The operators are so busy they have to send a request to their supervisor when they need to use the bathroom or leave their seat for other reasons.

Due to the high pressure at work, operators often resign after a few years, so the center is always recruiting new people.

Zhang Simin, a 21-year-old former armed policeman, has been working at the call center for about a year.

“When I started out there were only 47 operators on a shift, and now we have 60 so I can take intervals of a few seconds between calls instead of talking all the time,” he said.

It’s up to the operators to determine in which cases police officers should be dispatched, and Zhang said cases in which human life could be in danger take priority.

People causing false alerts can face detention up to 15 days, while fake bomb and terrorism claims can lead to criminal punishment.

The call center also has a team of 60 police officers on standby who can take calls from foreigners 24/7. They speak English, Japanese, French, German, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Spanish and Italian.

Li said there was no plan to add other languages at present because those languages proved sufficient.

For non-emergency requests, consultations and complaints, residents are urged to call 12345.

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