Happy 80th birthday to 999!

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The familiar 999 phone number is the world's oldest emergency service – and it's 80 years old today.


From about 1,000 calls during its first week of operation in London back in 1937, the service has expanded to take well over half a million calls every seven days in 2017 (figures from BT).

The Second World War delayed the introduction of 999 to all parts of the UK, but every big town and city had access to it by 1948 and telephone exchanges were all automated to support the service by the mid-1970s.

Despite the huge volume of calls 999 receives today, its trained call handlers still pick up 97% within five seconds nationwide. But over a third of calls are not actually from people asking for help, and the remaining two thirds also feature a significant number that do not need emergency services to assist with a health condition or other problem.

There is plenty of advice available on how to keep our brilliant 999 service sustainable by using it appropriately. You can find the CCG's own guidance here.