Dubai Police urge public to call 901 with non-emergency

Last year, 1.5 million of the 1.9 million calls received on 999 were non-emergency calls. Police introduce new number to try and prevent time wasting.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Jan 16,2011: Dubai Police officials working in the Command and Control Center at the Dubai Police Headquarter in Al Qusais in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Wafa
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DUBAI // How do I book a flight to Kuwait? When does the shopping festival end? Can I get a job with the police?

Those are just a few of the inane queries the Dubai Police emergency line continues to receive every day, despite the launch of a general enquiries line to field such questions last year.

The toll-free number, 901, was launched in October 2010 to divert non-urgent calls from the emergency number, 999, and limit its misuse.

Last year, 1.5 million of the 1.9 million calls received on 999 were non-emergency calls. Among examples of calls fielded by 999 operators where 'which pharmacy is on night duty' and 'how do I pay traffic fines'.

Dr Jasim al Rumaithi, head of the general department of operations at Dubai Police, said more than 75 per cent of the calls coming into the operation room are non-emergency calls.

The trend has continued even after police set up the 901 line for general enquiries. Since the establishment of the 901 number, only about 10,000 calls were have been received and general inquiry calls are still being made to the operation room.

Now, Dr al Rumaithi is calling on the public to understand the difference between 901 and 999 and be more mindful or the calls they make to the hotline.

"We have a target of answering calls made to the operation room within 10 seconds. Although the force is able to meet this target most of the time, the fact that the majority of those calls are not emergency calls is overburdening the system and wasting our resources. That is why we decided to set up 901, and why we want to encourage the public to use it," said Dr al Rumaithi.

Dubai Police have launched an awareness campaign to educate the public about the new number and what services it provides.

The campaign, which started yesterday and will run until March 3, will spread the message by SMS, at ATM-machines, and through the media. Police will also distribute about 20,000 flyers in both English and Arabic on the services the new call centre provides.

Police ask that all criminal and traffic enquiries - from how to get a certificate of good conduct to requesting burial permission - be directed to 901 and not 999. Call centre operators are also equipped to send the relevant applications upon request.

The 901 call centre operates around the clock to answer public enquiries whether they be related to Dubai Police or general information in Dubai.

The centre will also receive suggestions and complaints from the public.