Hoax 999 call by Bridlington girls, 10, sparks nationwide police search

Dr David Macklin of Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Det Chief Insp Lisa Griffin at a press conference appealing to trace the caller.
Dr David Macklin of Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Det Chief Insp Lisa Griffin at a press conference appealing to trace the caller.

DETECTIVES have warned of the serious consequences of abusing the 999 emergency system after two Bridlington girls made a hoax call this week sparking an appeal which hit international headlines.

West Yorkshire Police issued an urgent appeal to trace a little girl who called the ambulance service to say her mum had fallen and was not moving at their home in Leeds.

The girl, who gave her name as Ellie, said she was three years old, her house number was 23 and had ‘Court’ in the street name.

She said her grandparents lived in Bridlington.

The call was made at 11am on Monday, but the ambulance control staff could not trace the call and were desperate to help.

Within hours of the appeal going out on Tuesday, the story was being broadcast on news channels, websites and social networking sites around the world as efforts were made to quickly trace the caller.

Even celebrities including TV presenter Philip Schofield and comedian Sarah Millican re-tweeted the police appeal to thousands of followers on their Twitter accounts.

And the Free Press Facebook page was inundated with comments from shocked readers who were busy sharing and re-posting the appeal in a bid to help track down the little girl and her mum.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said initially the number that made the call could not be identified or traced, but by Tuesday afternoon further investigations tracked it down to a 
mobile phone number in Bridlington.

Two 10-year-old girls were identified as having been responsible for making the call.

They were spoken to by police officers who were liaising with their parents and partner agencies to decide on what appropriate action to take.

At the time of going to press no-one had been arrested or charged in connection with the incident.

Det Chief Insp Lisa Griffin of the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team at West Yorkshire Police said the incident had been incredibly frustrating but thanked the public and media for all their efforts.

DCI Griffin said: “We are pleased that our investigation has shown that we don’t have a vulnerable little girl out there with her mum collapsed beside her, although it is obviously incredibly frustrating that this has turned out to be a hoax.

“We are very grateful to the public and the media for all the support they have given us in appealing for information over this incident.

“We treated the call as genuine on the basis of what was said and what could be established in the initial stages of the investigation.

“Our priority is always to help the public and protect life as was our overriding focus in this investigation.

“This incident again highlights how misuse of the 999 system can cause significant unnecessary work for the emergency services who have limited resources to deal with genuine calls for help from members of the public.

“We hope it will help to remind people of the serious consequences of misusing the 999 system.”