New figures reveal Watford is one of the most problematic towns in Hertfordshire for hoax 999 calls made to Hertfordshire Police.
A Freedom of Information request made to the constabulary revealed that since 2016, over 5,000 hoax 999 calls were made from the Watford area.
Over the three years, the number and the problem got worse in the town as hundreds of more calls were made each year.
In 2016/17, 1478 calls were made, which was 130 less (1,608) than the amount of calls made in 2017/18 and considerably less than the amount of calls made in 2018/19 which was just shy of 2,000; 1,963.
Anyone caught and arrested by police could get a criminal record, a maximum £5,000 fine or a prison sentence.
Our FOI also highlighted neighbouring boroughs all have an increase in hoax 999 calls from 2016 to 2019.
In 2018/19, there were 2,132 hoax 999 calls made to the police from the Dacorum area, an increase of 637 when compared to the calls made in 2016/17.
1,739 calls were made from the borough of Hertsmere and 850 made from Three Rivers in 2018/19.
Superintendent Ken Townsend, head of the Force Communications Room at Herts Police, said: “Hoax calls are not only exceptionally frustrating for our call handlers in the control room but more importantly they monopolise our valuable resources.
“This ultimately puts the lives of genuine callers at risk and subsequently delays the dispatch of officers to them.
“Hoax calls waste police time that should be spent helping vulnerable members of society and dealing with genuine emergencies where lives are in danger, there is violence or property is at risk of harm.
“Misuse of the 999 system is an extremely serious offence and we do not hesitate to take action against those who choose to make these type of calls.
“All calls to us are recorded and we are able to ascertain the origins of any telephone number, even if it’s withheld.
“Remember – if you are found to have made a false 999 call, you could be fined up to £5,000 or face a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison.”