A man has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after making more than a dozen nuisance calls to the 999 emergency service, as well as other public services, and threatening to injure police officers.
Leon Richardson called 999 16 times in the three days leading into Sunday 17 July. Throughout those calls, he was rude and abusive to our call handlers and threatened to injure police officers.
On Sunday 17 July, he also called the NHS 111 service a number of times while intoxicated. During those calls, he was rude and made several threats.
Richardson was subsequently arrested on suspicion of misusing of a public communications network. While in custody, he damaged a police cell.
He was then charged with persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and /or anxiety, sending an offensive communication and criminal damage.
Richardson, 41, of Witchards, in Basildon, appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 19 July and admitted the charges.
Magistrates sentenced him to an immediate term of 12 weeks in prison and he was ordered to pay £100 in compensation.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, head of our contact management command, said:
“Richardson’s actions directly impacted on our ability to take calls from members of the public who actually needed our help. That is completely unacceptable, and he was rightly arrested and subsequently convicted. “Demand on our emergency 999 number continues to be high and we anticipate that demand to grow throughout the summer. “Our incredible team in our Force Control Room will always step up to meet demand but the actions of people like Leon Richardson disrupt our ability to do that. “The 999 service is there for emergencies only – for when a crime is taking place or there is a risk to life or property. It is not there for people to abuse and the dedicated staff who take those calls do not deserve to be abused in the way Richardson did.”
A guide to using the 999 correctly
On Saturday, our force control room dealt with 1,941 calls, 1,254 of which were to our 999 service. Those emergency calls were answered within an average of 5.6 seconds.
In order to help us to help you, please consider the following before picking up the phone and calling 999:
Is this a police issue or is another service better suited?
Is the information already on our website? Please check online: www.essex.police.uk
Has a crime already happened and you want to report it or you have information about an incident? Report it online or via Live Chat: www.essex.police.uk/digital101
Do you want to share some information with us or speak to someone specific? Call our non-emergency 101 number
Is it an emergency? Is a crime happening right now, or is life or property at risk? Call 999