AS THE Coronavirus epidemic develops, North Wales Police are urging members of the public to use their services wisely and help keep the 999 line free for emergencies only.

The plea comes as the Force has seen a "significant increase" in the amount of calls they have received over the last week, in particular ones regarding matters unrelated to police and non-urgent matters.

Superintendent Neil Thomas, who is in charge of the Force’s Control Room in St Asaph said: “This week has been another challenging one for North Wales Police with a surge of public calls into the control room from people trying to seek clarification on various issues related to the coronavirus.

"Whilst I appreciate that people are calling us in good faith, these calls are dealt with by emergency call handlers who are already working on high demand and reduced staffing levels. I would like to emphasise that we have well-rehearsed plans in place to ensure that we continue to provide a service the public.

“However, unnecessary calls into the control room is having a significant impact on our ability to deal with genuine calls and putting people’s lives at risk.

“The volume of calls has grown significantly and there has been a large increase in the amount of people contacting us via live webchat and emails. I want to encourage people to continue using the live webchat and email functions for non-urgent police matters.

“We are also urging the public that if they are seeking advice around COVID-19 and what it means for them, they should refer themselves to the UK Government, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales websites for guidance."