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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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1,300 hoax calls to Cumbria police

More than 1,300 hoax calls have been made to police in three years, shock figures reveal.

Justin Bibby photo
Justin Bibby

Cumbria Police are now warning that prank calling the emergency services is “irresponsible” and could have tragic consequences.

The Constabulary confirmed that 1,363 malicious calls were made to police between 2009 and 2012 in a response to a Freedom of Information request.

Chief Inspector Justin Bibby told the News & Star: “Misuse of the public emergency telephone system through hoax, malicious or nuisance calls is an extremely serious matter.

“Such actions are irresponsible and in the worst cases can put the lives of members of the public at risk.

“In an emergency, seconds count. Abusing the 999 system could mean that resources are dispatched to incidents when in fact they are needed elsewhere.”

The latest statistics, from a Freedom of Information request, have emerged after firefighters also warned that hoax callers are putting lives at risk.

We revealed on Saturday how more than 330 malicious calls were made to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service last year.

Crews responded to more than 50 – including 16 in the west of the county and 14 in the north.

More than 233 were abandoned, which means the caller hung up the phone, and 47 were challenged by call handlers.

Bob Nixon, the fire service’s head of operational support, warned that hoax calls could divert fire engines from real emergencies – potentially risking lives. He said: “People might think making these kind of calls is a harmless bit of fun, but it’s a highly reckless criminal offence that can easily have fatal consequences.”

Although no action was taken against anyone responsible for the calls, fines of up to £5,000 or six months in prison can be imposed.

There have been several recent examples in Cumbria where malicious callers have been brought to justice:

Dean Richard Kelly avoided a jail term after his hoax call sparked a major police response.

Kelly, 37, of Barrow, a silver medallist at the World Dwarf Games, admitted wasting police time after he phoned police to report a woman with a shotgun and a knife outside his flat.

Jacqueline Hustler caused panic when she called Millom Community Hospital, Westmorland General Hospital, and Marks & Spencer in Kendal, warning of a bomb on site.

Hustler, 48, of Bradford, was jailed for three years after admitting communicating false information with intent.

Former RAF serviceman Richard Paul Davison made a string of false calls, prompting seven ambulances to rush to his home.

Davison, 42, from Stanwix in Carlisle, was sent to prison for 20 weeks after admitting he made up the nuisance 999 calls.

DHemming@cngroup.co.uk

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