No arrests have been made despite nearly 900 hoax calls being made to emergency services from Hyndburn in the last three years, the Observer can reveal.
Community leaders and service bosses have slammed the pranksters for wasting the time of ‘overstretched’ services and putting lives at risk.
The damning figures, released by Lancashire Police under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal how 320 hoax calls were made in 2013 with 272 in 2014 and 303 in 2015.
However, police have confirmed no arrests have been made in relation to any of the incidents.
Hyndburn council leader and former firefighter Miles Parkinson said the figures are ‘most disheartening’.
He said: “With the scarce resources of the blue light services, whether it’s the ambulance, fire or police, it’s very disappointing when certain individuals think it’s amusing to make hoax calls.
“They also put other people’s lives at risk because there are other serious 999 calls that need to be dealt with and not being because they are dealing with hoax calls.
“It’s unfortunate that through telecommunications the hoax phone calls haven’t been traced and the rightful prosecutions made or the relevant warnings given to those individuals.
“As a former firefighter it is most disheartening that we could be wasting time when someone really needs one of the blue light services.”
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Hoax calls waste police time and money, taking resources away from potentially serious incidents that require police attention. It is unacceptable that people continue to make these dangerous calls and the force will continue to do all it can to ensure that cases are dealt with appropriately.”
North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust said hoax calls count for only a ‘relatively low number’ of their 3,000 daily calls but ‘undoubtedly put lives at risk by taking up valuable time and resources’.
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesperson said: “When malicious call are made, we have access to information that can be used to find the exact location of the caller.
“If a mobile phone is used to make a malicious call, we can make a request to bar the caller’s mobile phone via their service provider.
“This prevents the mobile from sending or receiving calls or SMS messages.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said although the arrest levels are ‘low’ hoax callers can be traced.
He added: “The 999 system exists in case of emergency.
“It is intended to be used only when there is a crime in progress or where life is at risk.
“Some people are ringing the number when there is no need to and this is simply not acceptable. As communications operators are dealing with these 999 calls, people in genuine need of emergency help may well be trying to get through.
“At best, these types of irresponsible calls are wasting valuable time and at the very worst, they could ultimately cost lives.
“While arrest figures are low, we can trace people through phone calls.
“We always follow up hoax calls and if they are persistent offenders we can have the phone number blocked.”