Hoaxers risked lives by making more than 50 prank 999 calls to police in Hampshire yesterday, it has been revealed.

In one case last night a child aged just 12 diverted vital emergency services on a hoax emergency call to a fake heart attack patient.

Now police and ambulance service chiefs have issued a warning that lives are being put at risk by hoax 999 calls.

In one case, a call was made at around 6.15pm saying that a man was going into cardiac arrest at a house on Woodmill Lane, Southampton.

Supporting their colleagues in the ambulance service, several police units arrived at the address but found no trace of such a man.

Police believe the hoax call was made by a 12-year-old child and the matter is being investigated further.

In a joint statement Chief Inspector Darren Miller from Hampshire Constabulary and Mark Ainsworth South Central Ambulance Service Operations Director (Hampshire) said: “We will always look to protect life and each hoax call we receive puts in danger those people reporting a real emergency.

“Together, we committed significant resources in responding to this call and it was immensely frustrating for all involved when it turned out not to be genuine. The police will be speaking to the parents of the child in this case.

“We’d say to all parents make sure you know what your children are up to. If they have a mobile phone, check who’re they’re calling. If they’re found to be making false and malicious calls, they could be committing a criminal offence.

“Already today, the police have received approximately 50 abandoned 999 calls. Some of them are genuine, but the ones which aren’t divert valuable resources and make it more difficult to respond to those people who really need our help.”