MORE than 650 hoax calls with malicious intent were made to West Dunbartonshire’s ambulance and fire services over the last ten years, new figures show.

And the Scottish Ambulance service says these types of calls are putting lives at risk.

A Freedom of Information request put to all three emergency services found that 657 were considered malicious between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) in the area.

Police Scotland told the Post they were unable to provide figures on hoax calls to the police over the period because of the costs involved.

Since 2012, the SAS has received 248 hoax calls, with a particular year of concern being the 2018/19 financial year, where there were 63 fake calls recorded, a jump from 24 the previous year.

This then fell to 10 the following year.

And, speaking to the Post, an SAS spokesperson warned anyone caught making these types of calls could be costing someone else their life.

They said: “Anyone who calls 999 without a genuine need is potentially putting lives at risk by tying up valuable resources that could be needed to respond to a life-threatening call. Therefore, malicious and hoax callers will be reported to the police.” There have been six recorded hoax calls to the service so far this year.

There were 6,510 false alarms to the SFRS across West Dunbartonshire over the last decade, with 409 of these considered malicious.

The rest were either when a call had been placed with good intent, or a callout due to apparatus such as a fire alarm being triggered for another reason.

Of those 409 malicious calls, 256 were traced to Clydebank’s three wards, with 146 in Clydebank Central, 68 in Clydebank Waterfront and 42 in Kilpatrick.

Area Commander Joe McKay is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's local senior officer for East and West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute.

He said: “While we have plans and procedures in place to ensure our communities are protected at all times, every second counts in an emergency and when firefighters have to attend hoax calls there is the chance they could be taken away from incidents where lives are at risk.

“Making a malicious call to the emergency services is a criminal offence and we will work with Police Scotland to identify those responsible.

“We are proud of our educational and preventative efforts within communities across Scotland and will continue to lay bare the costs and consequences of making a malicious call to the emergency services.”

LSO McKay added: “More than 30 per cent of the incidents we attend each year are not actual emergencies – they are false alarms and can be caused by a number of factors.

“Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) lead to our crews being called out unnecessarily. This disrupts our training and community safety work, as well as our availability for real emergencies. There is also an impact on the environment caused by fire appliances making unnecessary journeys under blue light conditions.

“Following a 12-week public consultation held last year, we accepted recommendations to change the way we respond to workplace automatic fire alarms from April 2023.

"In doing so, it is anticipated that we will be able to reduce our attendance at UFAS incidents by as much as 57 per cent, allowing us to spend more time to reinvest in areas which will deliver greater value.”