An investigation by a daily newspaper has revealed the huge number of hoax calls made to the emergency services.
Using a Freedom of Information request Burton Mail reporter Katie Bowler uncovered that firefighters in Staffordshire had wasted 144 hours this year attending hoax calls at a cost of £52,245.
It also revealed that over the last five financial years Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service received 3,436 hoax calls, while Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service received 4,009 scam calls.
The false calls amounted to 22 days and 10 hours of lost work for Staffordshire fire fighters and 20 days of wasted time for Derbyshire fire fighters.
The Mail revealed that the estimated cost to Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service over the five years was £55,000, and the bill was £296 every time an appliance was called out in Staffordshire.
In a separate FOI request to find out about the number of hoax calls received by police it was revealed that 4,858 hoax calls were made over the last five financial years to Derbyshire Police.
The Mail’s findings prompted Derbyshire Police to issue a warning about the dangers of making prank calls.
Inspector Paul Cannon told the Mail: “For every hoax call we receive, elsewhere there could be someone desperately needing our services.
“Making hoax calls is an offence known as the misuse of electronic communications network or services under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
“The act carries the power of arrest and it can lead to six months in prison if it is serious enough. We would have to judge each case of hoax calls on its own merit.
“If people persistently make these calls they will find themselves before the courts facing prosecution. Fines and fixed penalty notices can also be issued.”