Police warning over 999 misuse

A POLICE chief has issued a stark warning over the misuse of the 999 service – saying a spate of nuisance calls could have cost lives.

Cleveland Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Sean White is reminding people of the life-threatening consequences of false and malicious hoax calls that can take away officers from real emergencies with possible “dire consequences”.

It comes after four false calls were made over the last weekend with reports of mass brawls involving blades and a man on the rampage with a knife.

Mr White said such calls use up vast resources as the mention of a weapon can see armed police, the dog section and extra officers drafted in to deal with the incident.

He said: “Hoax calls and false reporting is an extremely serious issue that not only uses valuable resources but puts people’s lives at risk.

“We always aim to offer people the best service possible and our highly-trained specialist units and officers help us to do that, but these services need to be used in the right way and we will take action against anyone found to be deliberately false reporting or making hoax calls.

“This can range from a warning to prosecution, which may involve heavy fines, imprisonment and a criminal record.

“The 999 service is to be used for emergencies and we would always encourage people to immediately report emergency incidents to us. It is not a service that should be used lightly, hoax calls and false reports waste both time and money and we are determined to clamp down on those who continue to ignore our warnings.”