11:15 Tuesday 31 December 2013

Hundreds of hoax 999 calls in last six months

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

MORE than 200 hoax calls have been made to fire crews in just six months.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed a total of 217 false alarms have been received between April and September.

But while more people are making bogus calls – which are up from 206 for the same time last year – crews are attending less.

A quarterly performance review showed that firefighters dealt with just 32 hoax calls during the six-month period.

Most were made in July and August, which saw 43 and 42 respectively.

Fire service chiefs have now vowed to increase their efforts to find out whether a call is genuine before resources are sent out in response.

However, they are again reiterating the dangers that making hoax calls can cause for those genuinely in need.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of risk reduction, Glynn Luznyj, said hoax calls ‘put lives at risk’.

He said: “Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to protecting, supporting and responding to the needs of our communities, making them stronger and safer.

“It is our duty to provide an efficient and effective response to all emergency calls we receive.

“Hoax reports and unwanted fire signals can put the lives of people who truly need assistance at risk.

“We are working hard to bring down the number of hoax phone calls that we receive through a variety of high-profile media campaigns.

We are also carrying out educational programmes in schools and by appropriately challenging calls at the point they are received by fire control staff.

“This has proved successful, with 337 hoax calls recorded last year compared to 580 two years ago.

“We are, however, continuing to work closely with the police to drive this number down even further.”

The fire service revealed it could contact mobile phone operators to request that a mobile is cut off if someone is making hoax calls.

The service can also pursue criminal charges.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “All 999 calls are automatically recorded and can be used in evidence against someone committing a crime.

“Malicious calls won’t be tolerated. They can cause distress for staff and prevent them from dealing with genuine emergency calls.

“We take calls of this kind very seriously and want those responsible for them to realise we will take action and deal with offenders.”

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