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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 07:53 GMT
Hoax 999 calls 'endanger lives'
Devon and Cornwall police have said lives are being endangered by a series of bizarre and misguided 999 calls.

People have phoned the emergency line to report a pigeon in their garden, builders making too much noise and a shop which would not give a refund.

Officers said Christmas saw a peak in such calls, often influenced by drink.

Police said they are asking anyone calling the 999 number to consider seriously whether it is actually a real emergency they are calling about.

Large owl

Devon and Cornwall police call operators get an average of 700 emergency calls a day.

But they said up to 70% can be hoaxes, misguided or just bizarre.

Examples include someone wanting a pizza delivered, a complaint of a battery running down on a mobile phone, and a holidaymaker reporting a large owl sitting on a telegraph pole.

Operators said it can endanger lives by keeping them from dealing with real emergencies.

In 2005 the force received 25,000 inappropriate or hoax calls.

The maximum penalty for making hoax calls to the police and wasting their time is seven years in prison.


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