Prank calls to police rise by a third

POLICE in Suffolk have received more than 1,500 hoax calls in the past 12 months, The Evening Star can reveal today.Figures revealed by Suffolk Constabulary reveal the number of recorded hoax calls has increased by a third compared with the previous year from 1,160 in 2004/05 to 1,547 in 2005/06.

POLICE in Suffolk have received more than 1,500 hoax calls in the past 12 months, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Figures revealed by Suffolk Constabulary reveal the number of recorded hoax calls has increased by a third compared with the previous year from 1,160 in 2004/05 to 1,547 in 2005/06.

In contrast the number of nuisance calls received by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has dropped by almost a third from 305 calls between February 2004 and February 2005 to 214 in the same period the following year.

Mike Nunn, spokesman for Suffolk police, said hoax calls received by police included calls when the operator answered, the line was dead and the caller could not be traced.

He said in these cases it was often mobile users who had inadvertently called 999 while their phone was in their pocket or bag.

However the number of hoax calls that has been recorded as a crime has also increased from eight in 2004/05 to 22 in 2005/06.

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Mr Nunn said all of those calls which had been investigated as offences in the last 12 months had related to bomb hoaxes.

He said it was difficult to ascertain whether there had been any increase following the July 7 bombings in London.

Mr Nunn said: “Hoax calls are extremely frustrating and irresponsible.

“While we are dealing with those calls we are not able to respond to real emergencies and this can mean the difference between life and death in extreme cases.

“People must be aware of the serious consequences hoax calls can have on the community and where appropriate we will prosecute those involved.

“In an emergency situation we want people to call 999, our concern is if people are using it to make hoax calls or provide false information.”

Mr Nunn said in cases where a line was dead police would attempt to make contact with the caller to ensure their welfare.

He said often calls were made when small children were playing with the phone and when police called back they would be faced with an apologetic mother.

He said calls such as this, which could be explained, were not recorded as a hoax.

N Have you ever been on the receiving end of a prank call? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail: eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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