A bull in a field, the wrong pizza topping and a complaint about the police helicopter: these are just a few examples of the 400 hoax or inappropriate calls received by Essex Police every month - a figure which increases in the summer.

The recordings have been released by the force as part of the More Time to Fight Crime campaign which is asking people to use online reporting at www.essex.police.uk or call 101 if not in a genuine emergency.

Superintendent Kevin Baldwin, who heads up the force’s control room, said: “There’s nothing that frustrates my team more than picking up the phone on a 999 call only for it to be a call which plainly isn’t an emergency and is sometimes a deliberate hoax.

"This is a very busy time of the year where we are working flat out, so answering a 999 call made by someone who should have a bit more common sense isn’t just infuriating, it could risk the life of someone who really needs us but can’t get through.”

The launch of the campaign comes as the latest police figures reveal a seasonal spike in crime which saw the force record its busiest 24-hour period in recent memory.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “People are used to understanding that for the NHS winter is an exceptionally busy time, but for us it’s summer. The extra calls for help we get over the summer amount to about one day extra per week over what we expect during other seasons.

"That means sometimes people reporting a genuine incident but one that isn’t an emergency might have to wait a little longer for our help.

“We don’t have extra officers on duty over the summer so making sure we are where we need to be means two things: firstly that we put extra demands on hard-working police officers and staff; and secondly that we have to take difficult decisions about what incidents we go to first or at all. Communities can help us by making good use of the information that’s online which helps you report a non-emergency crime or find one of our partners who will be best placed to help you on non-policing issues.”

From noise nuisance to potholes and dog fouling to abandoned vehicles, the More Time to Fight Crime campaign aims to increase awareness about what is and isn’t a policing matter in a bid to reduce demand on the force for non-police matters and those that should be dealt with by other organisations.

The campaign will include social media activity to help people report non-emergency crime online, a new interactive online game which asks players to decide how police should respond to a range of real-life incidents, a 24-hour ‘tweetathon’ revealing the volume and types of calls the force respond to and a series of short films offering a glimpse into the world of call handing.

Throughout the campaign, the force will be publishing crime prevention advice and guidance on how to keep homes and property secure, driving safety tips and information on anti-social behaviour.