EMERGENCY call handlers were forced to deal with idiotic complaints about the police helicopter and lost keys during a busy bank holiday weekend.

Amongst the calls dealt with at the Force Control Room were people who said the helicopter - which is only used in high risk situations - was flying too low over their house on Monday night.

A spokesman for the control room said: “Whilst on this call other 999 calls are stacking and our call handlers can’t deal with people who genuinely need our help.”

Another call later that night saw someone phone 999 because they had locked themselves out of the house and were not sure what to do.

Someone also dialled the emergency number because a snake had been spotted in the road.

Police have urged anyone considering calling 999 to remember the line is used for emergencies, and other genuinely serious matters may not be dealt with if control room staff are needlessly busy.

In recent months, Essex Police has publicised a number of time wasting calls which have been made by members of the public.

Amongst those received have been complaints fast food giant KFC had run out of chicken, while in November a fan called 999 to complain West Ham had lost again after a 2-0 reverse against Watford.

Another caller called the emergency services and swore at them before immediately hanging up.

Essex Police were busier than usual over the weekend because of the bank holiday with hundreds of calls each day.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust also recorded a large number of calls during the break.

Essex Fire and Rescue Service were unable to reveal how many incidents they attended over the three days but the three most serious where all in Colchester.

Crews were called to a lightning strike in Wren Close, Stanway, in the early hours of Sunday.

On Monday morning a large fire involving a dozen cars broke out at Boyton Cross in Hythe Station Road and a few hours later crews helped cut casualties free after a car overturned after a crash in Maldon Road.