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There has been a worrying increase over recent weeks of hoax calls in our area.

Making hoax and malicious calls is a criminal offence. Such calls tie up emergency crews so they are not available for real, potentially life-threatening incidents.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) receives dozens of such calls every year, made from payphones, mobile phones and landlines. Malicious callers are not only an enormous drain on resources; their thoughtless behaviour endangers the lives and safety of the public.

All calls to our Control Room are recorded and can be instantly traced back to the caller. This doesn’t just apply to landlines; even calls from payphones and mobiles are taped and can be traced.

The consequences of making hoax or malicious calls

· All hoax and malicious calls are passed to the police as crimes. Tapes of the call, details of the incident and any witness statements will be provided as part of that criminal investigation.

· In all circumstances where it suspected that a hoax call has been made, HFRS will proactively supply evidence to the police to support the prosecution of offenders.

· Any perpetrator can be prosecuted for making such calls, and can face a hefty fine and/or up to six months in prison if convicted.

· HFRS has an agreement with the major phone companies that enables the disconnection of mobile phones and landlines if they have been used to commit hoax or malicious calls. If this happens, the owner of the phone will be blacklisted by all major networks and phone companies.

· In persistent problem areas, specialist or existing CCTV can be used to assist in identifying an offender.

How you can help

If you know of someone who makes hoax or malicious calls, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer Niall McKiniry emphasised the severity of such action:

“Sending a significant amount of firefighters and appliances to what turns out to be nothing more than a hoax is, at best, frustrating and, at worst, deadly.

“The public rightly expect that we are ready to help them at a moment’s notice around the clock, but wasting time and money attending fictitious incidents costs seconds, if not minutes, which sadly can be the difference between life and death.”