Thousands of hoax calls received by police and fire services in East Lancashire each year are stopping officers attending genuine emergencies.
Figures show that Lancashire Police’s 999 operators have taken almost 5,000 hoax calls relating to the area over a 3yr period. In the same period, nearly 2,000 hoax calls were received by operators working on behalf of Lancashire Fire and Rescue. This has led to almost 3,000 fire engines being sent to sites in the East Lancashire area at an estimated cost of almost £100,000.
Highlighting an incident in Blackpool where a young boy tragically died after fire engines were sent on a hoax call, the county’s chief fire officer said it was ‘beyond belief’ that people commit offences which carry potentially tragic consequences.
A police spokesman said people who were caught making hoax calls could face imprisonment, fines or have their phone cut off. He described offenders as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unacceptable’ and urged them to think twice. The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the most hoax calls were received by Lancashire Police’s 999 operators in relation to the borough of Blackburn with Darwen.
Peter Holland, chief fire officer for Lancashire, said the service has worked hard to reduce the number of hoax calls over the last 15yrs. Mr Holland said: ‘Fire engines and crews cannot be in two places at one time and hoax calls can, and do, cost lives. Youngster Jason Walsh died in his home in Blackpool when fire engines were sent on a hoax call just when he needed them.’
Here at Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire we feel very strongly about this issue and we urge you to remind those around you especially youngsters that making hoax calls to the emergency services could result in someone losing their life.