Number of hoax calls to universities falls to new low

Incidents: The number of calls to UCLan has fallen
Incidents: The number of calls to UCLan has fallen
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Firefighters have been called out to hoax calls at university buildings and student halls of residence in Lancashire more than 100 times in the past five years, new figures have revealed.

But fire chiefs today said they have campaigned for years to reduce the number of malicious call outs involving students – and latest figures show their efforts are working.

Between 2008 and 2012, firefighters went to 60 hoax calls in Preston halls of residence and 11 at university buildings.

But just six of those calls happened last year.

In Lancaster there were just two malicious call outs, despite there having been 44 outs to university buildings and four to halls of residence in the city since 2008.

Warren Hessey, fire safety manager for the central area at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In the last few years, we have further developed our working relationship with the University of Central Lancashire and I know that colleagues at Lancaster Fire Station are working closely with Lancaster University.

“Here in Preston we deliver a Student Safe Initiative to all freshers at the beginning of the year with the help of the university staff.

“We teach the students about the consequences of hoax calls as well as other vital fire safety messages which have resulted in a significant decrease in the number call outs to university buildings and accommodation.

“We are very grateful to the University of Central Lancashire for working with us during the campaigns that we run each year.”

The Evening Post first highlighted the issue of malicious calls at Preston’s university in 2006, when the problem became so bad that university bosses threatened to throw those found guilty of the practice off their courses.

Some 40 malicious calls connected to students were recorded that year.

Between 2008 and 2012, the 119 incidents cost fire chiefs around £35,700 in firefighters’ time.