More than 5,800 hoax 999 calls made in just 4 years

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Paramedics are among the emer­gency ser­vices hav­ing to con­tend with hoax call­ers

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.”

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