Hoax lifeboat calls putting lives at risk on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast
The RNLI has condemned prank callers for putting lives at risk after a lifeboat crew and an RAF helicopter scrambled to what turned out to be a hoax.
The Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat launched into action last night (Monday) following a report that a man had gone in the sea at Gorleston after a dog.
The volunteer crew went out just after 6pm and, with support from an RAF Wattisham helicopter, searched the waters for more than half an hour.
Following enquires by police and Coastguard, it became clear the call had been a hoax and emergency crews were stood down.
Last year, the Gorleston-based RNLI crew were the victims of three confirmed hoax calls.
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Speaking after Monday's shout, a spokesman for the life-saving charity said fake calls were difficult to identify.
'The RNLI will always launches to assist if there is a concern for people's safety,' he said.
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'Our volunteer crew members do not judge as to how or why someone is in difficulty.
'However, like any emergency service, we are occasionally the victim of hoax calls. It can be difficult to say for definite if a call is a hoax, but incredibly disappointing when we suspect it has been.
'Our volunteer crews are willing to put their lives at risk to save others so it is incomprehensible why anyone would fake an emergency. A hoax call also has the potential to divert search and rescue assets away from a real emergency, putting lives at risk in the process.
'However, we would urge anyone who genuinely thinks someone needs our help to call 999 and ask for the coastguard.'