Stern warning following hoax 999 phone call

Fire & Rescue East Sussex
Fire & Rescue East Sussex

The fire service says those who make malicious 999 calls could face prosecution, following a hoax call to a home in Hastings.

Just after 8.30pm on Monday (November 9) firefighters from Hastings and Bexhill fire stations were called out to reports of a kitchen fire.

The caller claimed a friend’s kitchen was ablaze.

But when crews arrived on the scene, there was no fire and the homeowner said they had not made the call or asked anyone else to do so.

Now East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) is reminding the public that making hoax, or malicious, 999 calls is a serious offence - and could even lead to a prison sentence.

Andy Reynolds, ESFRS’ director of prevention and protection, said “Hoax calls require fire engines and crews to be sent, wasting time, money and resources.

“Hoax calls are a criminal offence and we would like to remind the culprit that if prosecuted you may face a large fine, or even a custodial sentence.”

He added: “Hoax, or malicious calls cost lives and we treat these incidents extremely seriously.

“The perpetrator should consider that their actions could result in friends or family members being affected as hoax calls can divert fire engines away from people who urgently needed help.”

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service records all calls and the telephone number used to make the hoax call is displayed.

If a call handler suspects a hoax, or prank, the call will be challenged with the following statement: “If this is a false call, we are taping your voice and we will be passing this to the police, do you wish to continue?”

A text message will also be sent to any mobile phone used to make a hoax call.

The message will inform the caller ESFRS will get the caller’s phone disconnected and their contract cancelled if any further hoax calls are made to the service.

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