Page last updated at 00:09 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Four jailed in Scotland for making hoax calls

Generic firefighters
Hoax calls and fireraising cost hundreds of thousands of pounds

Sheriffs have jailed four men in the past 18 months for making hoax calls to the emergency services in Scotland, new figures have revealed.

They included a 37-year-old man who was jailed for eight months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in December last year.

And at Falkirk Sheriff Court in January, a 17-year-old man was given a three-month prison sentence.

The Crown Office said the sentences showed that it took cases of hoax calls "very seriously".

The two other cases saw a 40-year-old man jailed for three months at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September 2008, and a 19-year-old man jailed for four months in November last year at Stirling Sheriff Court.

'Endanger life'

The four people jailed were charged under Section 85 (1) of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 for a false alarm call to emergency services.

Scotland's fire and rescue services recently revealed how hoax calls, false alarms and deliberate fireraising had cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and wasted hundreds of hours of firefighters' time.

Last week, East Sutherland Rescue Association lifeboat crewman Donald Grant, 54, was ordered to pay £2,000 compensation after he admitted making a hoax call saying a woman had jumped into the sea from a pier at Embo in Sutherland.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "We take all crimes that endanger life very seriously and work closely with the police and fire investigators to ensure that such crimes are fully investigated and prosecuted in the public interest."

The figures, which were released under Freedom of Information legislation, showed there were a total of 49 prosecutions for false alarm calls to the emergency services between April last year and 22 October this year.

A further 81 people were imprisoned for fireraising charges during the same period.

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