Police are issuing a warning to those who make malicious calls to the emergency services during the Christmas period that action will be taken against them.
Officers are reminding people to use the 999 system appropriately, and not to make hoax calls.
Every year lives are potentially put at risk by hoax callers and those people who are not in an emergency situation dialling 999 and tying up phone lines and operators, meaning that those in a genuine emergency situation may not reach the emergency services as quickly.
The 999 system should be used where:
• There is risk of injury
• There is risk of serious damage to property
• You suspect a crime is in progress
• It is a serious incident which needs immediate police attendance
The non-emergency number for police is 101 and should be used where:
• There is no immediate danger to life
• The crime is not in progress
• The offender is not nearby
• You have a general enquiry
Temporary Chief Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, Head of Operations Command, said: “Inappropriate calls to the police service prevent and delay genuine emergency calls from getting through to the operators in our control room, potentially risking the lives of those who need urgent assistance.
“Some of our inappropriate calls come from children who may not be fully aware that they shouldn’t be ringing 999. We would ask parents to make sure that their children are fully aware of the consequences of ringing an emergency line when there is no emergency.
“All we would ask of anyone is that they think thoroughly about whether it is appropriate before they pick up the phone and dial 999. Those that make malicious or hoax calls have been warned, you will be caught and you will be dealt with robustly.”
Examples of recent inappropriate calls to police include:
• A woman called 999 to ask for a lift home after a party in Middlesbrough as she had no credit on her phone to ring a taxi.
• A boy called 999 because there was a fly in his ice cream and then hung up.