be a fool, don’t make a hoax 999 call this
HERTFORDSHIRE Constabulary is releasing a ‘spooky’ bogus 999
call this Halloween to remind people not to misuse the emergency
service at this busy time of year.
Halloween is a very busy night for the force, making it
essential telephone lines are kept clear for genuine calls,
therefore making sure police resources can be used most
effectively. Last year on Halloween, there were over 200 more calls
on the day compared to an average day in the Constabulary. This was
1,435 non-emergency and 999 calls made to the Constabulary on
Halloween compared with 1,204 on a normal day (a 19 per cent
The force is hoping that releasing the call, made earlier this
month, will serve as a timely reminder before Halloween that making
a bogus call can stop important 999 calls from getting through.
Worse still, it can divert valuable police resources away from
handling genuine emergencies.
The call, made at just after 8pm, was from a man reporting there
was a mysterious object flying above his house with lights blazing.
He subsequently phoned back to say he had been mistaken and the
mysterious object was in fact the moon.
The recording will be available to listen to on our YouTube
page, which is accessible via the Hertfordshire Constabulary
website homepage. Alternatively, the address is
To go directly to the call, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtYwqM2a-7o
In July this year the Constabulary launched a new non-emergency
number 101, which aims to make it easier and, in most cases,
cheaper to contact police where there is no crime in progress or
immediate threat to life or property. By 2012 all of England and
Wales will have adopted this new number, meaning people can use the
same number to contact their local police for non-emergency matters
wherever they are.
Jason Baxter, Assistant Manager at the Force Communications
Room, said: “While the caller here may not have been phoning out of
malice, his phone call still tied up valuable police resources and
time for something which was not an emergency.
“It also illustrates the kind of bogus call we might receive to
999, whether as a hoax or an inappropriate call.
“I would like to encourage people before they phone 999 to ask
themselves – is this really a police matter?
“And is this really an emergency call – an immediate threat to
life or property?”
“If this is not a police matter, please do not call us. If it is
not a genuine emergency call, please ring us on our non-emergency
number 101. Otherwise, you could potentially put others with
genuine police or emergency calls at risk or prevent them from
He added: “Also, if you are thinking it would be funny to play a
‘trick’ this Halloween and make a hoax call, be very careful! You
could find the ‘trick’ is on you when we prosecute you for making a
Fact file on making hoax calls:
• The maximum penalty for hoax call offences is up to six
months imprisonment and a fine of £5,000. If it involves
specifically wasting police time this can be up to seven years
• All phone calls are recorded and can be used as evidence.
Police have the power to disconnect mobiles from which hoax calls
• Using specialist software, police are also able to trace
where calls are made from, and so locate any hoax callers and
obtain their telephone numbers.
• People should only dial 999 in an emergency. An emergency
is when there is a risk of injury to someone or a risk of serious
damage to property, you suspect a crime is in progress or there is
a serious incident which needs immediate police attendance.
• If there is no emergency, use the non-emergency number
101 or contact your neighbourhood team (numbers are available on
the Hertfordshire Constabulary website). The average waiting time
for callers on this number are 13 seconds, and last week the
average wait time was nine seconds.