YOUNGSTERS have seen at first hand how police deal with 999 calls.

The members from Kirklees UK Youth Parliament visited the Force Call Bureau in Wakefield yesterday.

The 15 youngsters – elected by their peers to represent them – saw how emergency calls are handled by the police and also heard about how the 999 number is misused.

The centre now deals with almost half-a-million calls each year and, in the 12 months to the end of August 2007, 813 hoax calls were made in the Kirklees area.

Supt Julie Davies, from the Communications Division, said she hoped the members’ experience will help spread the message and reduce the number of nuisance calls.

“They listened to a number of calls which enabled them to hear how the 999 line is misused on occasions,’’ she said. “They also had the chance to try and write down what they were hearing so they could get an idea of how difficult it can sometimes be for our call handlers.

“Hopefully, the members of the Kirklees Youth Parliament will be able to help us by passing the message on to friends and the wider community about the misuse of 999 calls to the police. The visit should also give them a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes.”

She added: “The sheer volume of calls coming into the force means that time is of the essence. Our operators need to be able to deal with emergency calls quickly in order to send officers to what, potentially, could be a life threatening situation.

“Through speaking to groups such as the Youth Parliament, we hope to get the message across that people should not use the 999 service unless it is an emergency.

“We listened to what the young people of Kirklees have to say and looked for feedback about their experiences of ringing the police. It was also an opportunity to find out how we might make it easier for them to contact us in general.”

Kirklees police commander Chief Supt Barry South believes working with the Youth Parliament will forge stronger links with the younger generation.

He said: “The visit is aimed at tightening relationships between the police and the Kirklees Youth Parliament who work closely with the children and young person’s board. They have been selected by their peers to represent them.”