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Essex woman jailed for making 850 hoax 999 calls

Ford made hundreds of hoax 999 calls Credit: .

A woman from Essex has been jailed for 12 weeks for making hundreds of hoax 999 calls and hurling abuse at call handlers.

Tracey Ford, from High Barrets, Pitsea, dialled 999 more than 850 times without a genuine reason.

The 48-year-old was even reported to police by neighbours, who heard her "shouting and swearing down the phone at all hours" at a telephone box near her home.

Basildon Magistrates' Court heard that call records suggested Ford was "often intoxicated" while making calls from the phone box and on a mobile phone.

Ford was found guilty at an earlier hearing of three offences of persistently using the public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety between February 2018 and January this year.

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

Ford was jailed and ordered to pay compensation of £100 each to the ambulance and police service.

The calls to the ambulance service alone cost in the region of £22,000, the court heard, and the police control room was forced to block her number.

Ford claimed at interview that she called police as the force "didn't do anything" about a previous break-in at her home.

She said she "paid tax during her previous work as a taxi driver so it was her right to use the service".

Ford was jailed for 12 weeks. She was also given a five-year criminal behaviour order, meaning she must get a third party to contact emergency services to report any minor crime or illness.

It also bars her from using offensive or abusive language in calls, and forbids her from dialling 999 unless in a genuine emergency.

Alexander Deacon, mitigating, said Ford has since stopped making the calls, adding: "She does appear to have learned her lesson."