Barn owl in flightImage copyright Simon Richardson

An owl has caused serious problems for a police force’s computer and phone systems after it flew into power cables.

Avon and Somerset Police had to urge people to call 999 only if they had a genuine emergency and avoid the non-emergency 101 service.

The police headquarters said neighbouring forces supported them with their 999 call response on Monday.

The problem was rectified at about 16:15 BST.

The accident at 03:30 BST on Monday took out most of the power at Portishead’s police HQ.

Becky Tipper, centre manager for communications at Avon and Somerset Police, said they had staff coming in on their day off to make sure anyone dialling 999 could still get through.

The force usually received about 3,000 calls on a typical bank holiday Monday, she said, and would be “extra busy”.

‘Ruffled feathers’

A back-up service ran from Taunton and Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Police helped field calls.

A spokesman said: “We’re pleased to confirm that all systems are now back up and running and normal bank holiday service has been resumed.

“We would once again like to thank everyone for their patience and support, whilst we worked to rectify matters and apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption The 101 number was designed to relieve pressure on the 999 line

He said many people had asked about the owl’s fate.

“We don’t know for sure,” he added.

“But we certainly hope our feathered friend escaped without injury and was unaware of the feathers he ruffled, to keep us on our toes today.”

The 101 phone number is for local police in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, for less urgent matters than a 999 call. 111 is a 24-hour medical advice line, also for non-emergency enquiries.

Emergency calls to 999 were unaffected by the issue.

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