More than 5,800 hoax 999 calls made in just 4 years
POLICE, firefighters and paramedics were targeted by hoax callers more than 5,800 times over the last four years, it has been revealed.
It means that on average emergency crews were dealing with four malicious calls every day in the region – tying up valuable time and resources – according to figures obtained by a freedom of information request from our sister paper the Daily Post.
Hoax calls in the region even included people claiming to have weapons in a bid to watch armed police turn up at the scene.
Between 2014 and 2018, North Wales Police received 768 calls which were deemed to be “hoaxes”.
Between January 1, 2016, and October 1 2018, police handled 211,100 emergency 999 calls – of those 394 were malicious or hoax calls.
Chief Inspector Jeff Moses, North Wales Police call centre manager, said: “We receive a large number of hoax calls every year. This impacts on our ability to answer genuine calls.
“Those who make hoax calls are wasting vital services and could be endangering the lives of others. We take a robust approach to hoax callers.
“We see examples of hoax calls where individuals may claim that weapons are involved in order to witness the police response and to cause distress to others.
“We carefully assess calls and make use of technology to identify hoax callers and the penalties can be significant.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service took 2,177,508 emergency 999 calls across the whole of Wales between January 1, 2014 and September 30, 2018.
Of those a total of 4,415 were classed as malicious or hoaxes.
Louise Platt, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Head of Operations, said: “We cannot stress enough how irresponsible and potentially damaging the actions of hoax callers are. They could be causing a longer wait for someone whose life is genuinely at risk. Every minute we spend handling hoax or malicious calls is one where we could be helping a member of the community who might be suffering from a serious condition, such as a cardiac arrest or choking.
“We would ask those responsible to have a long, hard think about the potential consequences as one day it could be them or one of their loved ones who really needs us.”
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service dealt with a total of 54,176 emergency calls between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2018.
Of those, 623 were deemed “malicious false alarms” with firefighters attending 215 of the incidents.
In 250 cases the control room call takers challenged the hoaxer meaning that crews did not have to attend the scene. Figures show that firefighters did not attend 158 of the hoax calls for “other reasons”.
Peter Davies, control room manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The control operator will challenge the caller if they suspect it to be a hoax call before mobilising fire crews.
“Members of the public should be aware that all calls to the fire and rescue service are recorded, along with the caller’s details and where they are calling from, even a mobile phone.
“This information can be shared with the police and ambulance to see if the caller has any history of making hoax calls to other services.
“This means that there is a much greater chance of a person making a hoax call being traced. If a person is caught making a hoax call then they could face prosecution.”
He urged parents to help by making sure they know where their children are and what they are up to during the evenings, weekends and holidays.
Mr Davies said: “Unfortunately children are often unaware how dangerous these calls can be.”