Audio: Listen to the Norwich Castle Mall bomb hoax call made by teenager so brother could finish shift at Burger King early
13:10 12 June 2014
We have obtained an extract of the call made to police by a teenager who said a bomb was due to go off at a Norwich shopping centre so his brother could finish his shift at Burger King early.
The 14-minute call made by 18-year-old Luke Brown on March 6 proved to be a hoax, and he received a six-month sentence.
But his call resulted in nine police officers, two police community support officers, a crime scene investigator and police dog unit being sent to Castle Mall, and a number of members of highly-trained staff in the force control room being allocated to deal with the incident.
Police chiefs could not give an exact cost to the response to the incident at the Castle Mall, but indicated that it was a four-figure sum.
But for Superintendent Neil Baily, of Norfolk police, the most disturbing element is that hoax calls divert resources away from genuine emergencies.
“It’s astonishing to think of the stupidity of someone who would make a hoax call about a bomb in a busy shopping centre just to get his brother off work early,” he said. “As with any report to the police, our priority is the safety of the public and we have to treat these incidents seriously from the outset, as we did in this case by sending officers, including a dog unit, to the scene.
“Hoax calls are not victimless crimes; they can create fear and disruption to the community and also require a significant amount of resource from emergency services.
“Responding to hoax calls not only wastes police resources of calls handlers, their supervisors, officers on the ground, dog units and crime scene investigations, but those of our colleagues in the fire service, ambulance or coastguard, should the call require their assistance.
“With this in mind it’s difficult to put a price on the waste or resources but I can say confidently that it will more often than not run into a four-figure sum.
“We have a finite number of resources at any given time, they need to be used to respond to people who are in genuine need of our help.”
He added: “The custodial sentence underlines the seriousness of deliberately wasting police time and taking resources away from legitimate demands. We will always seek to prosecute where appropriate and I hope this case acts as a warning to others and highlights the fact 999 should be used for genuine emergencies.”
Since January 1 Norfolk police control room has received 526
hoax calls – although this figure includes repeat callers and incidents where children may be playing with a phone.
Brown, of Arnold Miller Road, was sentenced to six months in a young offenders’ institution at Norwich Crown Court on Friday after he admitted the offence. He made the call from a phone box on Long John Hill, where he was arrested.
Transcript of part of 999 call made by Luke Brown to police
POLICE CALL HANDLER: Go ahead caller, Norfolk police emergency.
LUKE BROWN: There’s a bomb going off in Castle Mall in six hours.
PCH: Right, are you willing to tell me who you are?
PCH: It would be a help to us if you could give some indication as to who you are.
LB: I can’t tell you that I’m sorry.
PCH: How do you know this?
LB: It was in a letter.
PCH: Right, and what... a letter you received?
PCH: Right, and who did this letter come from?
LB: I’m not sure it was unnamed.
PCH: Right, was it typed or hand-written?
PCH: Have you got this letter?
LB: No, I haven’t. I burnt it.
PCH: So normally when people make bomb threats they represent a particular organisation and they indicate that...
LB: All I know is that its in the food court.
PCH: It’s going to be in the food court is it?
PCH: So, any idea why you got this letter?
LB: No, I’m not sure.
PCH: Right OK, I need to know what the exact words of the letter were as far as you can tell me?
LB: Just that there’s a bomb going to go off at a certain time, I can’t remember what the exact time was , all it said was in six hours.
PCH: Hold on, I just need to get this right...So the bomb is going off in the food court in six hours?
PCH: Right, and what else does it say?
LB: And it was going to be in the food court and that was it.
PCH: So you can’t be more precise than that?
PCH: Do you know what type of bomb it was going to be?
LB: No, I’m not sure.
PCH: When did you get this letter?
LB: This morning.
PCH: I know you haven’t kept this letter but can you remember what the postmark was?
LB: Ah, no I can’t.
PCH: And what sort of writing paper was it on?
PCH: So an A3 sheet of paper?
PCH: And can you remember anything about the envelope?
LB: Um, no I can’t.
PCH: Right, any further information you can give us would be extremely helpful. Obviously we take bomb threats very seriously.
LB: That’s all I can remember.
PCH: Right OK, and you’ve got no idea why they should have sent it to you?
PCH: And was it actually posted then rather than delivered by hand?
LB: Yes it that was posted.
PCH: Posted. Obviously we’ve advising all sorts of people about this; you know there’s a specific protocol we have to follow when we receive a bomb threat like this. Um, you told me you burnt the letter and envelope, my supervisor was asking?
PCP: Right. (Typing away on a computer keyboard) What time this morning did you receive it?
PCH: There’s obviously been a bit of a delay here for something as serious as this... Why have you waited for so long?
LB: I’m not sure.
PCH: (Typing) Right, so you’re not sure at all?
PCH: It seems a bit strange?
PCH: Right, so who do you work for?
LB: I’m not working at the moment.
PCH: You’re not working, OK. So what happened when you got it at 9am then?
LB: I read it then I didn’t know very much about it so I burnt it.
PCH: Right OK. So obviously at some point you changed you’re mind about this?
PCH: Right, what made you change your mind?
LB: Becuase I think its it was serious.
PCH: What made you think it might be serious then?
LB: Because my brother works there.
PCH: Right, ok.
LB: (Puts phone down)
PCH: Hello...(Typing away)