South Yorkshire Police chiefs today slammed hoax callers for wasting their time and warned they face £90 fines.
They say bogus callers have put ‘already stretched police resources under additional pressure’ over Christmas and New Year.
Between December 20 and December 29, South Yorkshire Police call handlers dealt with 5,471 emergency 999 calls – about 70 per cent of which were not deemed true emergencies.
Police chiefs said some were ‘nuisance calls from people being abusive, wanting a chat or making a false report of crime’.
On Monday, December 23, a caller rang 999 to inform South Yorkshire Police that he had been to the pub and was now in a supermarket.
He said he was ‘letting police know where he was and that he was okay’.
One woman kept a call handler on the line for 16 minutes while saying she was drunk and wasn’t sure what she was reporting, while another woman complained to police that officers who had attended her house to deal with a reported crime had ‘walked dog mess’ into her home.
And on Saturday,a man rang 999 alleging he had been attacked and robbed in Doncaster – leading to a team of officers being deployed to the scene immediately.
When officers arrived the caller asked for a lift to the railway station and said he did not want to take the complaint any further.
Tracy Potter, operations manager at South Yorkshire Police, said: “Sadly, calls such as this are not uncommon.
“I urge people not to call 999 unnecessarily as, at best, they will be wasting police time.
“At worst, they could divert officers away from other, genuine incidents, which could have grave consequences.
“Many hoax callers are in drink, especially at this time of year, and think it’s acceptable to try and use police officers as a taxi service.
“Others, who are friendlier but just as serious in terms of time-wasting, want to wish call handlers Happy New Year.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of only ringing 999 in a genuine emergency. Hoax callers should also be aware they can face a £90 fixed penalty for wasting police time.
“While a call to 999 to wish handlers a Happy New Year may seem funny after a few pints, I can assure would-be pranksters we take such incidents seriously.”