Hoax Caller Trapped

26 October 2010, 00:00

A young boy received an unwelcome shock when making a malicious ‘999’ emergency call to East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) from a Hollingdean telephone box on Tuesday 19 October.

The schoolboy was caught red-handed reporting a hoax fire at a local infant school, after a weeklong joint operation by Preston Circus Station Manager Tony Gurr, and a team from Sussex Police - PCSO Lorraine Pickett, PCSO Anne Fosbury and PCSO Jenny Pieterson.

Tony and Lorraine sprung into action following a tip-off by the ESFRS mobilising and communications centre team that the hoaxer was on the telephone again. ESFRS used ‘Eisec’ - an enhanced information service for emergency calls - which automatically locates calls from landlines and mobiles, even overriding withheld numbers to obtain the caller's number and location.

Tony said: “Lorraine and I ran across the street to the phonebox, where we confronted the boy and his shocked mother with recorded evidence. The boy’s mother was upset to discover just what her son had been doing every time they visited the local shops on their way to and from school.

“The youngster had also been using his mother’s mobile phone, and she was unaware that we could have arranged for her mobile to be cut off without notice or charged her for each call-out.”  

The boy was given a stern warning about wasting firefighters valuable time and told that people who make malicious calls could face a prison sentence, or at the least have their mobile phone cut off, as all calls numbers are now monitored and recorded.

Tony added: “If crews attend operational incidents and it turns out to be a hoax call, the implication if another serious fire call is received at the same time is great. Crews may have to attend from other parts of the county, and this may mean a time delay in which life or death may be crucial. Also associated with these calls are unwanted vehicle movements around the City”   

As a result, fire crews attended local infant and junior schools to deliver important safety messages about wasting firefighters valuable time, and the dangers of making hoax calls.