DIAL 888 IF IT'S NOT SO URGENT; City plans new helpline to complement emergency services.Byline: Ian Latta
LIVERPOOL City Council
Liverpool City Council is the governing body for the city of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. It consists of 90 councillors, three for each of the city's 30 wards. could become the first in the country to handle non-emergency 888 calls.
The new system will relieve overburdened o·ver·bur·den
tr.v. o·ver·bur·dened, o·ver·bur·den·ing, o·ver·bur·dens
1. To burden with too much weight; overload.
2. To subject to an excessive burden or strain; overtax.
1. 999 operators who have to deal with millions of unnecessary calls to the emergency services emergency services Emergency care '…services …necessary to prevent death or serious impairment of health and, because of the danger to life or health, require the use of the most accessible hospital available and equipped to furnish those services' each year.
Home Office officials are already looking into a new way to improve the system, following the success of other schemes such as NHS Direct NHS Direct is the name of a 24 hour, confidential telephone, online and interactive digital TV health advice and information service provided by the National Health Service in England and Wales. The service is provided by the NHS Direct Trust. and Crimestoppers Crimestoppers or Crime Stoppers, a part of Crime Stoppers International, is the telephone hotline, separate from the emergency telephone number system, that allows a member of the community to provide anonymous information about criminal activity. .
Council chiefs say they are ideally positioned to incorporate the system into its existing Liverpool Direct call centre, Britain's largest local authority call centre.
Last night, city council leader Coun Mike Storey said: "We would be up for anything that frees up the emergency system.
"We are ideally positioned because Liverpool Direct already handles calls covering everything from loneliness to lost cats, which may well have clogged up 999 calls in the past.
"It would also bring in extra revenue for the taxpayers of Liverpool because we would not be providing the service for free."
Liverpool Direct, a joint venture between the council and BT, was set up in 1999 and now handles 23,000 calls a week. It has just taken its two millionth query and council chiefs claim it out-performs call centres in the private sector.
The Home Office says it does not keep figures for the number of non-emergency calls which clog up 999 lines but admit it runs "into millions."
Some of the calls taken by 999 operators include a model who broke her fingernail fin·ger·nail
The nail on a finger. and dialled for an ambulance.
Another woman phoned up because the zip (1) To compress a file with PKZIP. See ZIP file.
(2) (Zip) A removable disk from Iomega. See Zip disk.
(3) (ZIP) (Zig-Zag Inline P on her dress got stuck.
Other callers demanded advice from the emergency service on managing a sick pet, booking a taxi and how to get glue glue: see adhesive.
Adhesive substance resembling gelatin, extracted from animal tissue, particularly hides and bones, or from fish, casein (milk protein), or vegetables. off their fingers.
Home Office chiefs say plans for an 888 system are already at the White Paper stage, a firm indication of Government intent.
The 888 system would deal with all non-emergency calls such as floods, icy roads and abandoned cars.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We believe dedicated non-emergency access to the police could be handled by call centres and would involve local authorities." She admitted Liverpool Direct would be an ideal medium to launch such a system.
Plans for the 888 system come as Liverpool is also bidding to become the first city to launch a call centre for councils, which could create 500 jobs.
It would deal with calls on behalf of other UK local authorities for a range of services from revenue and benefit inquiries to housing repairs.
People making calls would dial a number local to their area, but the centre in Liverpool would answer their query.
The city council's executive member for best value, Coun Chris Newby, said: "It is our aim to make this as big as possible."