Woman called 999 hundreds of times and verbally abused call takers
A woman rang 999 hundreds of times and verbally abused call takers from the police and ambulance service, preventing them from dealing with genuine emergencies.
Tracey Ford’s calls to the East of England Ambulance Service alone cost in the region of £22,000. This included two ambulance visits to her home in which she was not taken to hospital.
Ford rang the ambulance service 391 times between June 9, 2017 and June 9, 2018 and 75 times between November 20, 2018 and January 17 this year.
She called Essex Police more than 261 times between August 1, 2018 and January 17 this year, and more than 146 times between February 8, 2018 and August 7, 2018.
These don’t include calls she also made to the non-emergency number 101.
Out of all these calls, Ford reported only three offences. The rest were not emergencies or she failed to say why she was calling.
On one day alone - May 28 last year – she rang 999 for the police 14 times in the space of about three-and-a-half hours. Each time, she didn’t give a reason for her emergency call and talked over the call taker. Her phone calls took up more than 50 minutes in total, equating to six per cent of the total calls received by Essex Police in the whole 24 hour period.
The control room was forced to block her number because of the amount of time she was taking up from call takers, who were trying to deal with emergency incidents.
Ford, of High Barrets, Pitsea, was charged with two counts of persistently using the public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.
The 48-year-old denied the charges and stood trial at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Friday 8 March, where she was convicted of both offences that day.
She is due to be sentenced on April 25.
Speaking after the hearing, Chief Inspector Matt Crow, head of the Essex Police force control room, said: “We answer anywhere between 800 and 1,000 emergency calls 24 hours a day and a hoax or nuisance call really can impact on the safety of someone calling us in an emergency.
"We will robustly deal with anyone misusing the 999 system, as demonstrated in this case, which should serve as a warning to those who make malicious or nuisance calls to the emergency services."
Dr Tom Davis, medical director for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) said: “As an ambulance service we are here to help patients - our staff should not expect to be abused while carrying out their duties.
“Many patients who call 999 on multiple occasions have a genuine medical need, and our Frequent Caller Team works closely with the wider health and social care environment to support them.
“However, in cases such as this, it is not acceptable to waste time and resources that could be used for helping critically ill patients.
“We’ve had great support from the public for our #Don’tChoosetoAbuse campaign and, in partnership with our police colleagues, we continue to support staff that have been subject to abuse.”