Boxing Day hoax call to Hertfordshire police

PUBLISHED: 11:19 30 December 2010




A HOAX caller rang 999 on Boxing Day morning to wish the police a Merry Christmas.

Hoax calls

• The maximum penalty for hoax call offences is up to six months imprisonment and a fine of £5,000. If it involves specifically wasting police time this can be up to seven years behind bars.

• All phone calls are recorded and can be used as evidence. Police have the power to disconnect mobiles from which hoax calls are made.

• Using specialist software, police are also able to trace where calls are made from, and so locate any hoax callers and obtain their telephone numbers.

• People should only dial 999 in an emergency. An emergency is when there is a risk of injury to someone or a risk of serious damage to property, you suspect a crime is in progress or there is a serious incident which needs immediate police attendance.

The call – released today (Thursday) by Herts Police – is being used as reminder of the dangers of wasting police time during a traditionally busy period.

A spokeswoman said: “Last year’s December 31 to January 1, from 7pm to 7am, saw calls to the service increase by more than double the average for a normal Thursday to Friday night. There were around 800 emergency 999 calls, compared to the usual 300 average.

“The force is hoping releasing this call from Boxing Day will serve as a timely reminder before 2010 New Year’s Eve that making a hoax call can stop important 999 calls from getting through. Worse still, it can divert valuable police resources away from handling genuine emergencies.”

The call, made at 1.50am to the control room on Stanborough Road, WGC, was from a woman who wanted to check if it was still Christmas Day and then to wish the call-taker a Merry Christmas. Assistant manager at the force communications room Jason Baxter said: “This kind of reckless behaviour could not only result in a criminal conviction for the foolish caller. It could also ultimately put other genuine callers’ lives at risk while they wait for their call to be answered or for officers to arrive.

“Our message is making hoax calls like this is not funny or cool. In fact, the joke could be on you should we decide to release your call to the public or even arrest you.”

He added: “As New Year’s Eve approaches I’m asking people to think before they make that call. Is it a genuine emergency – immediate threat to life or property? If not, it is not a 999 call and may be something to ring the non-emergency number on.

“However, if it is not a matter for police at all, it’s plain and simple – don’t call us so we can keep the lines free for those who do need our help.”

*Listen to the call by following the link – above right.

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