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12 June 2014, 05:28
Police have released a recording of a 999 call made by a teenager who falsely claimed a bomb would go off in a Norwich shopping centre.
You can hear the whole thing here
Luke Brown, 18, was sentenced to six months in a young offenders’ institution after causing a bomb hoax at the Castle Mall's food court so that his brother, who worked in Burger King, could leave off earlier.
During the 14-minute call Brown makes what police call "unsophisticated” threats claiming he had received a letter which said a bomb would go off there.
The control room call handler questions him several times over his identity, the letter and the validity of his claims. Brown refuses to give any further details and instead replies with "I’m not sure” or "I don’t know.”
It happened on Thursday 6 March when police received a call at 11.44am by Brown who told the controller "…there’s a bomb going off in Castle Mall in six hours’ time”.
When asked how he knows this information, Brown said he had received a letter at 9am which stated a bomb would go off in the food court. When asked whether he still had the letter Brown replied "I burnt it”.
The call handler makes him aware that police handle these calls very seriously and follow set protocol when dealing with such threats. Still, he remains silent.
Brown is questioned about the delay in receiving the letter to making the call to police; he said he thought it was serious because his brother worked at the food court.
A number of resources were deployed – nine officers, including a dog handler, two PCSOs and a crime scene investigator.
The call was traced to a phone box on Long John Hill and officers were immediately sent to the location where Brown was found on the line to police and detained.
Brown, of Arnold Miller Road, pleaded guilty to communicating false information about a bomb hoax at a previous hearing and was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday (6 June) to six months in a young offenders’ institution and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80.
Superintendent Neil Baily, Head of Contact and Control for Norfolk Constabulary, said that hoax calls diverted resources away from genuine emergencies.
He said: "It’s astonishing to think of the stupidity of someone who would make a hoax call about a bomb in a busy shopping centre just to get his brother off work early.
"As with any report to the police our priority is the safety of the public and we have to treat these incidents seriously from the outset, as we did in this case by sending officers, including a dog unit, to the scene.
"Hoax calls are not victimless crimes; they can create fear and disruption to the community and also require a significant amount of resource from emergency services. Responding to hoax calls not only wastes police resources of calls handlers, their supervisors, officers on the ground, dog units and crime scene investigations, but those of our colleagues in the fire service, ambulance or coastguard, should the call require their assistance. With this in mind it’s difficult to put a price on the waste or resources but I can say confidently that it will more often than not run into a four-figure sum.
"We have a finite number of resources at any given time, they need to be used to respond to people who are in genuine need of our help.
"The custodial sentence underlines the seriousness of deliberately wasting police time and taking resources away from legitimate demands. We will always seek to prosecute where appropriate and I hope this case acts as a warning to others and highlights the fact 999 should be used for genuine emergencies.”