999 timewaster from Essex cost taxpayers £22,000

15 March 2019, 08:04 | Updated: 15 March 2019, 08:08

hoax 999

A timewaster from Pitsea who dialled 999 more than 850 times without giving a reason has cost taxpayers at least £22,000.

Tracey Ford, 48, verbally abused call-takers at the East of England Ambulance Service and Essex Police between 2017 and January of this year.

She denied two counts of persistently using the public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, but was found guilty at Basildon Magistrates' Court on Friday, Essex Police said.

The force said her calls to the ambulance service alone cost in the region of £22,000.

This included two ambulance visits to her home, in which she was not taken to hospital.

The police control room was forced to block her number because of the amount of time she was taking up from call-takers who were trying to deal with emergency incidents.

Ford, of High Barrets, Pitsea, is due to be sentenced on April 25.

Dr Tom Davis, medical director for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) said: "As an ambulance service we are here to help patients - our staff should not expect to be abused while carrying out their duties."

Chief Inspector Matt Crow, head of the Essex Police force control room, said that a "hoax or nuisance call really can impact on the safety of someone calling us in an emergency".