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Police shame pranksters on YouTube

By Matthew Sparkes

Posted on 30 Jul 2008 at 10:57

Police are shaming hoax 999 callers and time-wasters on YouTube in an effort to cut down on non-emergency calls.

Over 400 hoax calls are received by the Avon and Somerset Police each month, as well as many calls that few would classify as emergencies.

The new initiative is designed to track down the identity of the callers and prosecute them, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a £5,000 fine.

However, some of the videos are becoming popular for their comic value, with the video of a lady phoning police to ask what year the internet started already reaching over 58,000 views.

Among other clips is the dramatic tale of a man whose wife would only provide salmon sandwiches for lunch, and another worried soul who had lost her glasses and could not see properly to peel potatoes. "You're through to the police; I can't come and look for your glasses," replies the patient call-handler in the video.

"It's important people realise that what could seem a harmless joke could result in a serious criminal conviction or endanger someone's life," says chief superintendent Dave Hayler. "We want to send out a warning that we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour and positive action will be taken."

The idea for the project may have come from the force's previous run-ins with YouTube users. Last year a man posted a video of himself riding through built-up area at over 100mph on his motorbike, and was tracked down and questioned by police.

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