POLICE fear lives will be put at risk over the next few weeks as hoax 999 calls soar during the summer holiday.
All three emergency services are blighted by the problem, which is often caused by youngsters.
It can now be revealed that 5,829 malicious calls were made in West Yorkshire in the year to March – only slightly fewer than the 5,915 made the previous 12 months.
Anyone caught will face prosecution. Police can trace the calls.
In one recent case a 20-year-old from Bradford received an Anti-Social Behaviour Order for making a string of hoax calls to police and emergency services over the past few years, including claims that his life was in danger.
Typical hoax calls made to the police recently include a claim that a teenager was carrying a knife in the streets and about a domestic row going on at a house.
People should only dial 999 where a crime is in progress, there has been a road accident and people are hurt or there is a fight.
Any incident which poses a risk to public safety should be made via 999.
Genuine incidents which need to be reported but do not pose an immediate emergency can be reported on the 0845 6060606 non-emergency number.
These calls are answered quickly and this number should be phoned if a burglary has happened and the offender has gone or to report an assault if the victim is in a place of safety.
Chief Supt Simon Willsher, from West Yorkshire Police’s Communications Division, said: “The sheer volume of calls coming into the force means that time is of the essence.
“Our officers need to deal with emergency calls quickly in what can be potentially life-threatening situations and anyone who wastes time with hoax calls is putting lives at risk.”
He added: “If people make hoax calls, they will be traced and prosecuted and potentially risk a prison sentence.
“The message is simple – don’t risk it and don’t risk others.”
Chris Menaul, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue mobilising and communications group manager, said: “Hoax calls cost lives. Prank calls take up precious time of emergency control operators and firefighters who would otherwise be dealing with potentially life-threatening incidents.
“When fire engines are called out as a result of a hoax call, it makes them unavailable to attend other genuine incidents and means firefighters from other areas have to cover.
“We do not take hoax calls lightly and will do everything within our power to ensure the perpetrators are prosecuted. We also have the option to report offenders to mobile phone companies who have the power to disconnect them.”