Hertfordshire Constabulary have warned people not call 999 for “the wrong reasons” after receiving a call from a man who was concerned about a duck in a car park.

The man called at 3.28am on Friday, March 2 to say he was worried about the bird’s welfare due to the cold weather in Watford.

The call handler informed the man that this was not a police matter and that he should contact the RSPCA instead.

Superintendent Mike Trotman from the Constabulary’s Force Control Room said: “This is an example of the emergency 999 number being used for completely the wrong reason.

“While it is admirable that the man was concerned for the duck, by calling 999 he could have delayed getting help to those truly in need of assistance and facing an emergency situation.

“Our call handlers are always busy dealing with both emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 calls, as well as online reports and contact from the public through our webchat facility so it is really important that people only contact us for the right reasons.

“Please think before you pick up the phone and dial 999.”

Only dial 999 if:

• Someone is injured, being threatened or is in danger.

• There is a risk of injury to someone or a risk of serious damage to property.

• A crime is in progress or you suspect a crime is in progress.

• There is a serious incident which needs immediate police attendance.

• Someone suspected of a crime is nearby.

When there is no immediate threat to life or property people can use the web chat facility to speak directly to a communications operator at http://www.herts.police.uk/contact_us/contacting_us.aspx or call 101.