A DORSET resident called 101 to report a bad jacket potato, a top police officer has revealed.

Assistant Chief Constable David Lewis has spoken out about "inappropriate" calls to the non-emergency number as part of a new Home Office campaign.

It is hoped that the initiative will raise awareness of how to use the number.

Dorset Police receives an average of 8,500 calls to the 101 line a week, meaning the non-emergency handlers deal with an average of more than 1,200 calls a day.

ACC Lewis said: "The range of inappropriate calls to 101 is still surprising.

"Calls have included requests for an officer to attend to open a caller’s dustbin, as they were concerned there was a cat inside and they were scared to open it.

"Another caller couldn’t remember the name of their favourite wool shop in Bournemouth but wanted to know if it was open, while complaints range from delayed post to the quality of a jacket potato.

“These calls prevent people who have a genuine police matter to discuss from having their enquiries dealt with in an efficient and timely manner.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “I am pleased by recent performance figures which have seen Dorset Police improve its response times to answering non-emergency calls on its 101 service.

“However, the system is still plagued with people calling about issues that are not for the police to deal with. This inevitably creates delays for those who have enquiries about genuine policing issues- it is vital that people use the 101 service appropriately.”

The campaign aims to remind the public of the purpose of the 101 service - to allow enquiries to be logged without detracting from the ability of the police to respond quickly to genuine emergencies.

Launched in 2012, 101 now covers all police forces across the UK and has replaced individual forces’ local numbers.