Essex

Pitsea woman jailed for 850 nuisance calls to 999

police sign
Image caption Tracey Ford's calls to the ambulance service cost about £22,000, a court heard

A woman has been jailed for making more than 850 nuisance calls to 999.

Tracey Ford, of High Barrets, Pitsea, Essex, verbally abused call handlers.

The 48-year-old was "often intoxicated" while making the calls from a phone box near her home and her mobile, Basildon Magistrates Court heard.

Ford was jailed for 12 weeks after previously being found guilty of three counts of persistently using the public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.

She was also ordered to pay £200 to the ambulance and police service.

The court heard Ford was reported to police by her neighbours who heard her "shouting and swearing down the phone at all hours".

Essex Police said she made 407 calls to the force and 466 calls to the East of England Ambulance Service.

The calls to the ambulance service cost about £22,000 while the police control room had to block her number, the court heard.

'Aggressive'

Prosecutor Sam Doyle said Ford was "aggressive" during the calls.

Ms Doyle described the 48-year-old as "somebody who willingly and persistently misuses the 999 system".

In a police interview Ford said she called the police as officers "didn't do anything" about a break-in at her home.

The prosecution said Ford believed it was her "right to use the service" as she had "paid tax during her previous work as a taxi driver".

Mitigating, Alexander Deacon said Ford had stopped making the calls and had "learned her lesson".

Ford has also been given a five-year criminal behaviour order which means she must get a third party to contact emergency services when reporting minor crime or illness.

The order also bans her from using offensive or abusive language in calls.

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