People who make hoax phone calls to the emergency services should be blacklisted by mobile phone operators according to London Assembly member Tony Arbour.
Mr Arbour called for the move after it emerged that the Metropolitan Police last year received more than 3,670 hoax calls, a three-fold increase in the number it handled in 2012.
Although the number of calls to London’s fire and ambulance services declined over the same period, both services still receive hundreds of hoax calls each year with crews often needing to be deployed to ensure members of the public aren’t in danger.
Culprits are responsible for diverting officers, medics and firefighters away from incidents where their help may be vital, and the calls place an unnecessary burden on each of the services’ budgets.
According to figures obtained by Mr Arbour, the cost of malicious and hoax calls to the London Fire Brigade in 2015 was £1,629,464.
In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, hoax calls cost the London Ambulance Service £152,000.
The AM suggests mobile phone operators should blacklist those responsible and that competitors should decline to provide new contracts to those barred due to misuse.
Mr Arbour said: “These figures show that hoax callers continue to be an expensive and dangerous burden on our vital emergency services.
“Blacklisting individuals who abuse the emergency 999 number would be a strong disincentive to anyone thinking of playing such life-threatening pranks.
“This proposal would require the co-operation of mobile phone operators but it is an avenue worth exploring if it has the potential to save a life.”
Arbour says he’ll use this month’s Mayor’s Question Time meeting to raise the issue with Mayor Boris Johnson and ask him “to urge mobile phone operators to consider these measures.”