AUDIO: Emergency services condemn ‘despicable’ Stevenage hoax call

Ambulance, police and fire crews were called to Cholwell Road, Stevenage

Ambulance, police and fire crews were called to Cholwell Road, Stevenage - Credit: Archant

EMERGENCY service staff who received a hoax 999 call at the weekend have said that abuse of the system will not be tolerated.

Three fire engines, an ambulance, a rapid response car and a police car were called to a house in Cholwell Road in Stevenage at about 2.40am on Sunday after reports of a fire.

Upon arrival, crews realised the call was a hoax, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

It was the third 999 call to the road in under three hours, although emergency services did not attend the two previous reports.

“Our firefighters are here to provide emergency services when people are in distress or trouble,” said Ian Parkhouse, area commander for the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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“Their concern when they attend a hoax call is knowing full well that there could be a call requiring their assistance elsewhere in the county or town.

“Our message to those who do it is ‘how would you feel if one of your family or friends needed our help and we couldn’t get there because of a hoax call?’

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“We do robustly challenge the caller, but the serial hoax callers know what to say to get past that. Last year there were 344 hoax calls and we attended 91 in the county. That is 91 times too many and we want to drive that number down to zero. Awareness through the Comet to educate the public better can only help that.”

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “Making a hoax call is a dangerous and despicable thing to do.

“The ambulances attending these wasted calls are being held up attending the public who really need an ambulance in an emergency.

“Anyone caught making these calls will be referred to the police and dealt with appropriately.

“Abuse of the 999 system will not be tolerated by our Trust. If you are prepared to risk diverting an emergency ambulance to a member of the public who genuinely needs it, be prepared to receive a hefty fine or even a prison sentence.”

A police spokesman added: “We are relentless in the pursuit of people who make hoax calls. We take it very seriously and have a proven track record of robustly dealing with those who make calls which cause disruption to the emergency services.”

? Ryan Farrelly, 19, of Strathmore Road, Hitchin, has been charged with a public nuisance offence.

A 39-year-old woman from Stevenage has also been arrested on suspicion of the same offence and has been bailed to return to Stevenage Police Station today (Thursday).

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