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Emergency hoax calls put lives at risk.

Byline: LAUREN WISE @CheshireLive

CHESHIRE Constabulary has received more than 500 phoney calls since 2017, new figures reveal.

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request made by the Chronicle shows that 510 hoax calls were made between the beginning of 2017 and March 29 this year.

Of these calls the force attended 322 reports, all of which turned out to be false.

Cheshire Constabulary wasn't the only emergency service subject to false calls during this period.

A previous Freedom of Information request revealed that through 2018, North West Ambulance Service was subject to 92 hoax calls.

Most of these calls came from the Crewe postcode, with a total of eight received.

A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: "Making a 999 call for anything that isn't a lifethreatening or serious emergency simply puts lives at risk by taking up valuable time and resources for not only ourselves, but also our emergency service colleagues.

"Our emergency control centres handle around 4,000 emergency calls every day and only a relatively low number are hoax calls compared to the number of calls for real incidents.

"However, any call that is not a medical emergency can prevent or delay ambulance crews getting to the genuinely sick people who are in the most need for urgent help."

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service was also subject to the calls, receiving a total of 517 calls in 2018, 96 of which they attended.

Andy Gray, arson reduction manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Hoax calls put the community and firefighters at risk by making them respond to emergencies which don't exist.

"For the past few years the numbers have remained roughly the same and this wastes our firefighters' valuable time and also public money.

"We want people to think about the consequences of making a hoax call. Anyone caught making a hoax call could have their mobile phone disconnected, they could face criminal charges and even a prison sentence.

"Is it really worth it?" Meanwhile, most the hoax calls made to Cheshire Constabulary for 2017, 2018 and the beginning of 2019 were all from Warrington.

There were 157 fake calls to police from the Warrington area in that time. Of those from Warrington, police attended 114.

Elsewhere in Cheshire, 56 of the phoney calls were made from Chester, with 60 made from Ellesmere Port and 56 also made from Crewe.

Superintendent Deborah Hooper said: "Hoax calls waste the time of the emergency services and could cost lives.

"What might seem like harmless fun could potentially compromise the response of the emergency services for someone genuinely in need. "Any abuse of the 999 system will not be tolerated. We will do all we can to trace those responsible and ensure they are dealt with appropriately."

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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:May 30, 2019
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