A man has been jailed for making hoax calls to Rescue teams in North Wales.
23-year-old Michael Cuminskey from Stockton in Tyne-and-Wear was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Caernarfon Crown Court today (Friday, 12th January).
This follows an incident on 25th March 2016 whereby a call was made to North Wales Police requesting the assistance of Mountain Rescue as a man had fallen whilst walking in the Dinorwig area.
The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team were called out along with the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter.
Investigating Officer PC Gethin Jones from North Wales Police said: “Hoax calls put lives at risk and are a costly and wasteful use of resources and Cuminskey showed a complete disregard for this fact. Not only do hoax calls show a lack of respect for the emergency services, but responding to false calls divert staff and volunteers from genuine emergencies where they are needed most.
“This particular incident is estimated to have cost the public purse over £32,000 which is unforgiveable. The search and rescue helicopter was dealing with this particular incident where it could have been needed elsewhere on a genuine life-saving call.”
Phil Benbow, the Chair of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association said: “Last year, Mountain Rescue Teams in North Wales attended almost 600 incidents which is an unprecedented level of demand for our 350 volunteers who are spread across the teams in the region. The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, who were called to this hoax attended 213 of these incidents alone.
“As registered charities the teams rely solely on voluntary contributions to remain operational, and maintaining this high level of service is a costly affair. Any unnecessary call on our resources carries a significant impact, and we welcome today’s sentencing having supported North Wales Police throughout the investigation.”
National Police Chief’s Council lead on Search and Rescue, Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “Mountain Rescue Teams, who provide an invaluable service to the public in the Snowdonia area, are staffed entirely by volunteers, who have a very difficult and challenging role, and we are indebted to the work they carry out and the lives they help to save.
“Historically north Wales is one of the busiest search and rescue regions in the UK. Colleagues from the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter, based at Caernarfon often deal with challenging and dangerous rescues. Each unnecessary call to them reduces time available for calls which are for genuine matters. It is also a waste of operators’ time and clogs up the already pressured 999 system.
“The courts take incidents such as this very seriously and I hope this result is a reminder to those who make such hoaxes that we will take robust action against those who make hoax calls.”