Hoax Call Audio: CAMBS: 10-year-olds to face prosecution for hoax calls

PUBLISHED: 16:59 04 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 04 May 2010

Hover over the image above and press the play button to listen to the audio.

Hover over the image above and press the play button to listen to the audio.

By CATHERINE BELL CHILDREN as young as 10 could face police prosecution and a criminal record if they are caught making hoax calls to the fire service. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched a zero-tolerance policy towards hoax callers, who

By CATHERINE BELL

CHILDREN as young as 10 could face police prosecution and a criminal record if they are caught making hoax calls to the fire service.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has launched a zero-tolerance policy towards hoax callers, who jeopardise lives and cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds.

The tough new stance follows more than 250 hoax calls to 999 operators this year so far.

The fire service automatically records all emergency calls and works with mobile phone providers to trace and disconnect phones used to make prank calls.

The move to reduce the age for prosecution follows the decision to review service protocols for dealing with 999 calls, which hadn't been updated since the 1990s. Although the fire service was unable to confirm the exact number of hoax calls made by children, a spokesman said it was believed that a "large proportion" of hoax calls over the past decade had been made by people under the age of 16.

Teri Seaber, group manager for Fire Control, the operators who receive 999 calls, said: "We want to tell hoax callers to watch out, because we are now taking a zero tolerance approach against this form of anti-social behaviour.

"The reality is that hoax calls can kill. If you dial 999 and make up an emergency, you are not only wasting the time of the fire-fighters who are sent there, you are also stopping them from attending real emergencies where people's lives are at risk.

"The person stuck in a burning house, or the wreckage of a car following a road traffic collision could be your mum, dad, friends, or children. How would you feel if fire-fighters couldn't attend and they died - all because you made a hoax call?"

Of the 250 calls received to July 13, 75 were from mobile phones, 12 were from landlines and the remaining 163 were from telephone kiosks or members of the public smashing 'break glass' alarms when there was no emergency.

Those who are prosecuted for making hoax calls could face a fine of £5,000 or even be imprisoned for up to six months.

In a bid to tackle hoax calls, the Fire Service has also been working with its partner agencies to inform young people about the dangers of this anti-social form of behaviour.

The Fire Service is automatically given the location of any public call boxes or other landlines on receipt of call and all telephone numbers are automatically passed to the Fire Service. The police are always informed following confirmation of hoax call and CCTV cameras monitoring most public call boxes provide footage which is used in evidence.

INFO: You can listen to a recording of a child making a hoax call to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and decide for yourself if youngsters should be prosecuted.

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