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Woman rings 999 hundreds of times - wasting more than £20,000

PUBLISHED: 11:44 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:43 15 March 2019

Tracey Fords nuisance calls cost the emergency services tens of thousands of pounds Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Tracey Fords nuisance calls cost the emergency services tens of thousands of pounds Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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An Essex woman was blocked by police after dialling 999 hundreds of times and verbally abusing call handlers - costing the emergency services tens of thousands of pounds.

Tracy Ford, 48, called Essex Police more than 261 times between August 1, 2018 and January 17 this year, and more than 146 times between February 8, 2018 and August 7, 2018 – but only reported three actual offences.

The rest were not emergencies, or Ford would not say why she was calling.

On one day alone, Ford rang the police 14 times in the space of three and a half hours.

Each time, she didn’t give a reason for her emergency call and talked over the call handler.

Her phone calls took up more than 50 minutes in total, equating to six per cent of the total calls received by Essex Police in the whole 24-hour period.

The control room was forced to block her number because of the amount of time she was taking up from call handlers, who were trying to deal with emergency incidents.

Ford also rang the East of England Ambulance Service 391 times between June 2018 and June 2019, and 75 times between November 20, 2018 and January 17 this year.

Her nuisance calls cost the ambulance service more than £22,000 – and prompted two visits to her home, neither of which required her to be taken to hospital.

Ford, of High Barrets, Pitsea, denied two counts of persistently using the public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety – but was convicted of both offences on Friday, March 8.

Speaking after the hearing, Chief Inspector Matt Crow, head of the Essex Police control room, said: “We answer anywhere between 800 and 1,000 emergency calls 24 hours a day and a hoax or nuisance call really can impact on the safety of someone calling us in an emergency. We will robustly deal with anyone misusing the 999 system, as demonstrated in this case, which should serve as a warning to those who make malicious or nuisance calls to the emergency services.”

Dr Tom Davis, medical director for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST)a added: “As an ambulance service we are here to help patients - our staff should not expect to be abused while carrying out their duties.”

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