A woman from Hampshire has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for repeatedly misusing the 999 service number.
On Friday 15th January, Louise Hathaway, 47, of Hampage Green, Havant, appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Hathaway admitted 65 counts of breaching a criminal behaviour order, given to her by magistrates on 31st May 2019.
This three-year order, which expires in 2022, had been given to prohibit her from calling 101 or 999 unless in an emergency. It also prohibited Hathaway from possessing a mobile phone.
Between October 16th 2019 and October 31st 2019, and again between 31st March 2020 and May 27th 2020, Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Hathaway breached the order repeatedly, making hundreds of 999 calls.
The court was told how these were not emergency calls and Hathaway was often abusive to the call handlers.
She was also found guilty of two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.
On 24th March 2019 at 13:24 hours, paramedics attended an address on Nettlecombe Avenue, Portsmouth, following a concern for welfare.
Hathaway was verbally abusive and assaulted one of the paramedics by hitting him on the arm. He was not seriously injured.
On 12th December 2019, an officer responding to a fraudulent call was spat at by Hathaway.
Inspector Glen Stanford said:
“We take this seriously because nuisance calls take up valuable time that could be better spent talking to people in genuine need.
“Receiving a high number of malicious calls directly affects the service we can give to other people.
“Our local neighbourhood teams have been working throughout the pandemic to ensure we keep our communities safe through these already tough times. This relentless abuse of the emergency contact number persistently impacted on the call handlers’ ability to answer genuine calls.
“Call handlers should also be able to work without being verbally abused.
“It is disappointing to see Hathaway repeatedly ignore the criminal behaviour order she had received.
“Neighbourhood officers have worked hard to achieve this result in court and this sentence will enable them to prioritise other areas within the community once again.
“This sentence is a reminder that we will take action against those who persistently abuse the 999 number.”
Operations Manager Laura Parsonage said:
“We take nuisance 999 calls extremely seriously, as they take up valuable time that could be better spent talking to people in genuine need.
“Our Contact Management staff do a hugely important and demanding job, speaking to people who are often in very difficult, upsetting or dangerous situations.
“When their time is wasted, it is most frustrating. They come to work to help the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
“I want to remind people just how vital it is not to make inappropriate emergency calls. You could be stopping someone who has a real emergency from getting through to our call handlers.”
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