Tyne & Wear

Coronavirus: Sunderland man arrested for 999 NHS complaints

Call handler at emergency centre Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Northumbria Police urged people not to abuse the 999 system

A man has been arrested for allegedly making repeated 999 calls to complain to police about the NHS and coronavirus.

Northumbria Police said the 60-year-old man from Sunderland made five emergency calls in 24 hours.

Ch Supt Neil Hutchinson said most people have only used 999 in a "genuine emergency".

But some have "bombarded us with nuisance calls" with anyone abusing the service to be "dealt with robustly".

A force spokesman said the man was arrested on suspicion of malicious communication offences after he "did not listen to advice about misusing the system".

Ch Supt Hutchison said: "The majority of people have only used 999 in a genuine emergency and made in good faith.

"However, there are some occasions when individuals abuse the 999 number and bombard us with nuisance calls.

"Especially at this time, given the increased demand on all of us, the last thing we want is for people to have to wait on the phone to speak to one of our call handlers, but this type of behaviour has an inevitable impact on how quickly other emergency calls are answered."

The spokesman said the number of people contacting the force online increased by more than 50% last week, while the number of calls to 101 fell by 15% compared with the monthly average.

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