A 60-year-old man from Sunderland has been arrested after officers received five calls within 24 hours
Officers have reminded the public only to ring 999 in an emergency – after a nuisance caller repeatedly rang police complaining about the NHS.
A 60-year-old man was today (Monday) arrested after allegedly making five phone calls to the Force’s emergency number within a 24-hour period this weekend.
The calls were not deemed a genuine emergency by officers, with the caller instead complaining to call handlers about the NHS amid the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.
Despite being warned against misusing the police’s telecommunication system, the advice appeared to fall on deaf ears.
As a result, the man from Sunderland was arrested on suspicion of malicious communication offences. He remains in police custody and is currently assisting officers with their enquiries.
With the increased demand on all emergency service staff amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we are asking members of the public, where possible, to contact us online instead of picking up the phone to report a non-emergency.
Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison oversees the work of our call handlers and says that while the overwhelming majority are listening to the advice and utilising online services for non-emergencies, those who abuse the system could end up with a criminal record.
“First and foremost, I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful staff and volunteers in the NHS who are working incredibly hard to protect the communities we serve in these unprecedented times,” Chief Supt Hutchison said.
“We all have a part to play in combating the Coronavirus, and I have been absolutely delighted with the way our communities have come together over the last couple of weeks.
“The majority of people have responded positively to the advice we’ve given and have only used 999 in a genuine emergency and made in in good faith. However, there are some occasions when individuals abuse the 999 number and bombard us with nuisance calls.
“Especially at this time given the increased demand on all of us, the last thing we want is for people to have to wait on the phone to speak to one of our call handlers – but this type of behaviour has an inevitable impact on how quickly other emergency calls are answered.
“I would therefore like to reiterate that important message – only ring 999 in an emergency, and anyone who does abuse that service can expect to be dealt with robustly.”
Last week, the number of people who contacted us online increased by more than 50 per cent following advice issued for those reporting non-emergencies to think twice about calling 101.
In turn, the number of calls to 101 fell by 15 per cent in comparison to the monthly average.
Chief Supt Hutchison added: “I would like to thank everyone wholeheartedly for your cooperation – your actions are helping to allow our call handlers to talk to those who need us most as quickly as possible.
“We are not exempt from the impact of Coronavirus on our workforce and some of our call handlers are unable to physically come in to work. However, they are determined to do all they can to support our communities and while they can’t answer calls they can respond to online enquiries.
“I would therefore ask anyone who wishes to report a non-emergency, or offer information about a live investigation, to get in touch with us via our website. We really appreciate it.”
We all have a part to play in combating the Coronavirus. At this critical time we need to make sure our emergency lines are free for those most in need.
If you need to tell us about a crime, help us out by using our online forms instead of calling 101. This will help us get the best help to those in an emergency.
You can do this by searching ‘Northumbria Police – Report an Incident’ on your internet browser, or by visiting our website.
In an emergency always dial 999.