A GROUP of youths risk putting people’s lives in danger by making hoax calls to the emergency services.

Officials have hit out at the actions of youngsters who have been harassing hard-worked call handlers.

Dorset Police are urging members of the community in Weston, Portland, to be vigilant and help them to track down the group of youths who have been making the hoax 999 calls.

Officers said they have received a number of calls from the telephone kiosk, at the junction of Woolcombe Road and Courtlands on Portland.

A spokesman for the police said: “The calls appear to come from a group of young people, possibly children, who are calling all three emergency services.

“We are anxious to identify the offenders.”

Officers are urging people to call them if they see any groups messing around in or near the telephone kiosk.

The police spokesman added: “Last year Dorset Police received 336 hoax calls from members of the public which places huge pressure on the force.

“Officers cannot be in two places at once. If they’re responding to a hoax call, they cannot attend a genuine emergency.

“It is vital that members of the public do not abuse the system and only call 999 when there is a crime in progress or danger to life. For any other policing issue, they should ring 101.”

Mayor of Portland Rob Hughes said that hoax calls were not only wasting the time of emergency services, they put people’s lives at risk that genuinely needed the services.

He said: “It is putting other people’s lives at risk. No one wants to be responsible for causing a major delay.”

He added: “Children probably don’t realise or understand, if it is kids, just what they are doing or how serious it is.”

He urged people in the area to keep an eye-out for the hoaxers.

Mr Hughes said: “It’s very dangerous and I think people in the area need to know about it. We need to try and stop it as soon as possible and do what we can.”

Anyone who has any information on this should contact Dorset Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, in confidence.