Tyne & Wear

Boy banned from Xbox called 999, Durham police reveal

A teenager rang 999 after his parents banned him from playing on his Xbox, Durham Police have revealed.

The force said it has dealt with nearly 7,000 hoax and silent calls in the past year, stopping officers from dealing with genuine emergencies.

Police took more than 59,000 calls between 1 April 2010 and 31 March, with fewer than half being logged as priority calls.

A police spokesperson said: "People use the number as a free phone book."

Ch Insp Stu Exley said: "The 999 system is for use in an emergency, for example when life is at risk or a crime is in progress.

"But it seems a lot of people cannot get this into their heads, and use the number almost as a free phone book.

"If people want to call the police on a non-urgent matter they should ring 0345 6060 365.

"We aim to answer emergency calls within 10 seconds and if our handlers are tied up dealing with hoax or frivolous calls, there is a risk someone reporting a genuine emergency may not be able to get through."

The police said the hoax calls were worse during school holidays, but were not only committed by children.

Calls have included people shouting abuse at the communications handler and then hanging up, a hoax bomb claim and teenagers "dared" by their friends to ring 999 and ask for the police.

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