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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 19:14 GMT
Phone warning to hoax fire callers
People who make hoax fire calls have been warned that they could have their telephone lines cut following prosecution in the courts.

Justice Minister Jim Wallace said the Scottish Executive was considering the move because of the increased number of malicious calls being made during the industrial action by firefighters.

Mr Wallace announced the move after a meeting of Cobra, the government's civil contingencies committee.

Mr Wallace said: "There are discussions with the telephone company operators as to what sanctions might be possible.

Lt Commander Tetlow
Lt Commander Tetlow: Hydrant problems
"People should know that they can be traced when they make calls and one of the things being discussed is the option of disconnection."

It emerged that Strathclyde Police has arrested two men in connection with alleged hoax phone calls during the latest walkout by firefighters, which began at 0900 GMT on Friday.

The men, aged 18 and 26, are expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday.

Assistant Chief Constable Ricky Gray said: After receiving a high volume of calls during the first 48 hour strike which began on 13 November and despite warnings to the public some people are continuing to engage in this totally irresponsible behaviour.

"I would stress that we will continue to pursue these individuals and bring them before the courts.

During the previous two-day strike action last week, a 10-year-old boy was among alleged offenders

Military crews revealed that vandalised fire hydrants have also posed problems in some areas.

Speaking in Glasgow, Lieutenant Commander Hamish Tetlow said: "Fire hydrants have either been vandalised, making them impossible or certainly difficult to use.

"Glue has been used or they've been tampered with in such a way that the keys to the hydrants don't fit."

More than a day into this eight-day walkout by full-time crews, the military and retained fire crews had received more than 350 emergency calls, with about a fifth turning out to be hoaxes.

Officers at the military's fire service control base in Stirling have expressed satisfaction with the handling of the situation so far.

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The BBC's Fiona Walker
"The military have come across unexpected hurdles"

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23 Nov 02 | Scotland
23 Nov 02 | Scotland
22 Nov 02 | Scotland
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