IT is an offence to send false messages under the Communications Act 2003.

A person found guilty of doing so could be sent to prison for a maximum of six months, or ordered to pay a maximum fine of £5,000, or both.

For persistent misuse, the courts can impose a fine of up to £50,000.

However, depending on the seriousness, frequency and nature of the hoax calls, some offenders may escape with a warning.

Should people abuse the ambulance service repeatedly the Act of the Obstruction of Emergency Workers Bill can be used when people intentionally prevent the work of the emergency services, which can also include assaulting staff.

In the past people have been given ASBOs for repeatedly abusing the service.