Police emergency call handlers hit by absences amid Omicron surge

Public warned to expect delays contacting non-emergency number as 999 service prioritised.

Police emergency call handlers hit by absences amid Omicron surge STV News

Police Scotland is taking “all necessary steps” to protect critical emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 services, in response to increasing absences among staff.

The force said it was dealing with a large number of absences due to the high transmissibility of Omicron – the recently identified new variant of coronavirus.

The public have been urged only to call the emergency number when there is an immediate danger to life or safety, or if a serious crime is happening right now.

Calls to 999 will be prioritised, assistant chief constable Alan Speirs said, but warned of long waits on the non-emergency line.

“However policing, so often the service of first and last resort, will never step away from those who are in crisis,” ACC Speirs said, “So please, if you need us, call us.”

Police Scotland said robust plans were in place to maintain staffing levels throughout contact centres to protect the 999 service.

Non-urgent issues can be reported online using the Contact Us form on the Police Scotland website.

It comes as new guidance for workplaces and businesses is introduced across Scotland.

The measures are being brought in in response to growing concerns over the rise in Omicron, now the dominant strain as of Friday.