A man has been arrested and fined after making false police calls about a firearm.
The 32-year-old first called police on Thursday, January 19, at 3.37pm claiming to have seen a man in East Lea, Newbiggin, with a gun.
Officers swiftly responded, including firearms officers and a dog handler, and found a man who matched the caller’s description.
The man was arrested, but had no weapon on him, and was released by officers.
A week later – on Thursday, January 26, at 1.50pm – another similar malicious call was made to police, of a man seen with a gun on Front Street in Newbiggin.
Again officers quickly arrived at the scene and found a man matching the caller’s description. Again the same man was arrested and once more no weapon was found on him.
This time the arrested man when interviewed admitted making both hoax calls and wasting police time. He was given a £90 fixed penalty notice.
Neighbourhood Inspector Sue Fryer said: “It is an extremely serious offence to make false calls to the police about a firearm.
“The force takes all such calls about firearms very seriously and will always respond promptly, ensure public safety and conduct an initial investigation to locate and identify the offenders.
“The majority of calls received are genuine and I would urge people to ring 999 if they believe they’ve seen anything suspicious involving a gun, however, those who are found to be responsible for making false reports will be dealt with and may face a fine or can be brought before the courts.
“Clearly we are also aware that local residents having seen the response of armed officers on the streets of Newbiggin may have been concerned about this police activity.
“I would like to reassure residents that although prompt police response was necessary I am confident with the result of our investigation.
“We want to make it clear that any malicious call which wastes police time and prevents officers from helping people in genuine need can potentially put lives at risk.
“The emergency services have to prioritise how they deal with calls and the main issue for us is how such hoax calls could cost lives in a real emergency situation.”