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Sunday, 24 November, 2002, 17:55 GMT
Hoax fire calls 'worryingly high'
Hoax 999 calls remain at a "worryingly high level" despite warnings that malicious callers will be prosecuted.

As the strike by firefighters entered its third day, emergency chiefs said that almost one in five calls was a hoax.

And Justice Minister Jim Wallace has outlined new sanctions against hoax 999 callers.

Between midday and midnight on Saturday 256 fire calls were received across Scotland.

Green Goddess
The military are providing fire cover

Forty-seven were hoaxes, with 31 of those coming from the Strathclyde region.

The military are providing fire cover during the strike which began at 0900 GMT on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the joint military operation, which is based at Stirling, said hoax calling was "not funny" and warned that those involved would be tracked down and punished.

She said: "Hoax calls are not as bad as they were in the first strike but they are still at a worryingly high level.

"We were hoping people would have got the message by now that it's not funny and it slows down response times."

Irresponsible behaviour

She added: "They will find you, it's quite easy to find you and if they do you will get charged."

Strathclyde Police have arrested two men aged 18 and 56 in connection with hoax calls.

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. "

Justice minister Jim Wallace has outlined new sanctions against hoax callers.

He said these would include the swift disconnection of mobile and fixed telephone lines of culprits.

Fixed lines

He said revised procedures had been agreed with the telephone operators for dealing with hoax callers, involving the prompt disconnection of telephone lines.

The measures will cover both mobile and fixed lines and will be in force for the duration of the fire dispute, he said.

The Lord Advocate in Scotland and the police have already said that they will treat hoax calls as a priority during the fire dispute.

A number of arrests have already been made in connection with a spate of hoax calls made during the two strikes so far.


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