Emergency operators across the UK are being kept unnecessarily busy by a shocking number of prank police emergency calls, according to a new analysis.
Home security specialists, SimpliSafe undertook a series of Freedom of Information requests to uncover which UK constabularies receive the most prank calls in a year. England received a shockingly high number of prank calls–with 91,290 between 2020 and 2021 and 102,930 between 2021 and 2022–a 13% increase in calls in a year.
The county of Hertfordshire was discovered to have the highest number of prank emergency calls, with 49,740 made between September 2020 and September 2022. This averages out to over 68 prank calls per day. If that picture wasn’t bad enough, there was a sharp increase of hoax calls to Hertfordshire police of 27% between 2021 and 2022 to 27,841.
The biggest percentage increase year-on-year was in London, where prank calls grew 200% in a consecutive year. However, there were some outliers, with North Yorkshire Police, in particular, experiencing a 52% reduction in prank calls year-on-year, with numbers dropping from 4,968 to 2,389.
With these alarming statistics, UK General Manager at SimpliSafe, Jonathan Wall advises Brits to take extra measures to help protect themselves whilst helping to reduce the number of pranks and false alarms: “The amount of hoax calls the police received across the UK is very worrying, especially when the emergency services are stretched so thin. These calls waste resources and misdirect help from those who need it.
“There are plenty of precautions and measures that the average person can take to help protect themselves whilst taking some pressure off the emergency services, such as cameras outside your home and a good alarm system.
“Of course, if there is a genuine situation that requires the help of the emergency services, the right course of action is to dial 999. Ensuring you’re fully protected and aware of what constitutes an emergency will help you get the right help you most need.
“With a SimpliSafe security system backed with professional monitoring, for example, the professional monitoring centre will use the Indoor Camera to visually verify an incident and then request police dispatch to your home. The live video footage from the visual verification process shows a genuine crime in progress rather than a potential time-wasting, phoney incident or false alarm. If an incident cannot be verified, our professional monitoring centre can still dispatch one of their guards.”
We can see a similar trend when these numbers are viewed next to the actual crime rates from the same time scales. In the year ending September 2021, the crime rate around the UK was 5.8 million. However, from September 2021 through June of the following year, the crime rate rose over 12% to 6.5 million. This increase could partially explain some of the numbers as an increase in crime would directly correlate with an increase in calls, pranks or not.