999 nuisance who made 400 hoax calls gets one last chance

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Police have warned 999 phone pests they are putting lives at risk by wasting officers’ time with hoax calls.

The message came after a serial pest - who has plagued cops with over 400 calls in 16 years - appeared in court over a drunken kill threat.

An officer had to be despatched to the home of Karen Harland after she called police threatening to ‘murder someone soon’.

She landed herself in the dock after admitting sending the hoax message - but District Judge Roger Elsey put her sentence on hold to give a last chance to stay out of trouble.

The 44-year-old was finally back before District Judge Elsey and was handed a 12-month conditional discharge.

Now police are sending out a warning shot that they will continue to gather evidence and take action against ‘malicious’ offenders.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “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.

“We take incidents of hoax calls very seriously and will prosecute when we have the necessary evidence.”

Harland, of St Michael's Avenue, South Shields, has made 405 different calls to the police since 1999 - including more than 40 this year alone.

District Judge Elsey blasted her at the previous court hearing for wasting valuable emergency service resources.

He was told that the serial hoax caller suffers from mental health problems - but is seeking help.

Rebecca Laverick, prosecuting, said at a previous hearing: “On July 13 she rang 999 and said she was going to murder someone.

“A police officer was sent to her home and found her displaying signs of drunkenness. She said ‘If you don’t arrest me I will murder someone soon'.

“She was arrested but said in interview she had no intention to murder anyone and accepts it was a nuisance call.

“She has a caution from April for a similar offence and one from three years ago for wasting police time.”

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “This is a lady who has mental health difficulties, but is accepting help. The call handler has assessed the situation and sent one officer – not a mass of armed officers.

District Judge Elsey said: “These calls cause the emergency services immense trouble and deflect resources from people genuinely in need.”

He warned her she could be put behind bars if she made more nuisance calls.

He added: “If you come back to court for new offences then all options will have to be considered, including imprisonment.”

Harland was also ordered to pay a £150 criminal courts charge, £50 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge.