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Hoax callers warned

Thursday, 13th January, 2011

Police have warned people about making hoax calls to emergency services, Police have warned people about making hoax calls to emergency services,

By Gina Wilson

Police have warned people about making hoax calls to emergency services, saying that if they are caught they will be punished.

A bogus call to 000 early on New Year's Day resulted in police, ambulance and State Emergency Service (SES) personnel attending a non-existent crash on the Barrier Highway.

The Barrier Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Mick Stoltenberg, said yesterday that the fake call put emergency services personnel and members of the public at risk.

"It's putting people's lives at risk, not only by taking away the capacity of that emergency service to respond to a legitimate call but that emergency services may well be responding as fast as they can which is putting them at unnecessary risk. It's just hideous."

Det Insp Stoltenberg said a caller to the 000 emergency line at 5.30am on January 1 reported a single vehicle motor accident 100 kilometres east of Broken Hill.

The caller said the vehicle had overturned with two people inside, neither of whom was moving, Det Insp Stoltenberg said.

Four police, two from Broken Hill and two from Wilcannia, two ambulance officers from Broken Hill and two local SES volunteers rushed to the scene but could not find any trace of the said accident.

He said those same emergency personnel had to attend at least one other serious motor vehicle accident on New Year's Day when one person was injured so badly they were transported to Adelaide for surgery.

He said hoaxes were a burden on the city. "It's a ridiculous impost," Det Insp Stoltenberg said. 

"Take into account that you've had a minimum of 10 emergency service staff (who) were jerked around for close to three hours because of the irresponsible actions of someone.

"The potential problems that can happen with emergency services unnecessarily attending to fake calls - I can't even describe what can go wrong."

Det Insp Stoltenberg said while no-one has been arrested over tha hoax, police had a suspect and an investigation was underway.

He said the offence can range from public nuisance to special offences that relate to emergency services.

"The person who was responsible for this fake call - if they can be identified they will be punished by police," the Det Insp said.

"It can range from a fine to the top end of the scale a period of imprisonment.

"There have been occurrences where people have not only be prosecuted but have had orders against them for the cost of the investigation."

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