London Fire Brigade

999 hoax calls reach ten year low

22 October 2012

New figures released today by the London Fire Brigade reveal that the number of hoax calls attended each year by the capital’s firefighters has fallen by 83 per cent over the last decade.

Hoax calls put lives at risk – taking fire crews away from real fires and emergencies and the Brigade’s 999 operators away from answering genuine emergency calls.

In 2001 the capital’s fire crews attended 12,898 malicious  999 calls – around 35 a day  -  but, thanks to measures taken by the Brigade over the last decade, that number had fallen to 2,152 by last year – just five a day.

The measures the Brigade has taken to help cut the number of hoax calls it sends fire engines to include:

• Training 999 control officers to proactively challenge callers if they believe them to be making prank calls. This has had a significant impact in cutting needless fire engine attendances. 

• Working with mobile phone operators. Repeated hoax or abusive calls lead to around 100 mobile phones being cut off each year. If a pattern of hoax calls is emerging the Brigade can also pass information on to the police.

• Establishing youth programmes in the community which  provide opportunities for firefighters to meet young people and explain the consequences of making hoax calls.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority James Cleverly said: “Hoax calls put lives at risk, waste our firefighters valuable time and are a drain on the Brigade’s resources. By working  hard to cut hoax calls the Brigade is saving money and more importantly freeing up fire engines to attend real emergencies

“We’re not complacent though and will continue to work to drive down the number of calls like this that we receive. At a time when all public sector organisations are facing serious financial challenges attending prank calls is not how Londoners want their emergency services to spend their precious time and money.”


Notes to editors

• The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers receive around 8,000 hoax  calls a year and the figures refer to hoax calls that have actually led firefighters being sent to a non existent emergency.

London-wide figures:

2001 – 12,898
2002 – 10,703
2003 – 9,904
2004 – 8,902
2005 – 4,684
2006¬ 3,461
2007¬ 3,005
2008 – 2,852
2009 – 2,597
2010 – 2,278
2011 – 2,152