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Hoax calling

The 999 number is for emergencies only. This includes when a crime is in progress, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened.

Misusing the 999 system

Misusing the 999 system and dialing it for non-emergency matters to report crimes or emergencies that do not exist can cost lives.  

Inappropriate calls slow down our response to genuine emergencies by tying up an operator. This stops genuine callers getting help and places the lives of others at risk.

If you know someone who has made a hoax call to us, please contact us by using our webchat facility, which can be accessed by clicking the green button on the bottom right of the screen. If the webchat is unavailable call us on 101. 

Please make sure you provide as much information as possible.  If you want to remain anonymous you can provide details through the independent charity Crimestoppers-UK.

Warning for hoax callers

How would you feel if a member of your family was unable to get the help they required because the police, fire or ambulance services had been called away on a hoax call?

All calls to the emergency services are recorded and we can always trace the number, even if the call is made from a withheld number or public phone box. If you are found to be making a hoax call you could be fined or even sent to prison.

Misuse of 999 and hoax calls are a criminal offence.  You could face a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison or a fine of £5,000.

Advice for parents and guardians

It is important you speak to children about the serious dangers of making a hoax call.  Some children do not realise the danger they are placing others in and may see it as part of a practical joke. 

Your children need to be aware that if they make hoax calls they are endangering other people’s lives.

What happens if 999 is accidentally dialled?

We understand that sometimes you can dial 999 by accident. You may accidentally dial it while the phone is in your pocket or bag. We have also seen examples where toddlers or young children have accidentally dialled the number.

If you or someone else has accidentally dialled 999 please stay on the line and explain what has happened to the emergency service call handler.  Do not simply hang up.  If you hang up and don’t let us know you’ve called us by accident we may still think there is an emergency situation, trace the call and send officers to you. This will be a waste of resources.

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