Patrick Matthews, a 58-year-old from Eastbourne, has been imprisoned for eight weeks after making over 750 nuisance calls to the Sussex and Essex Police departments. Spanning from October 2022 to April 2023, Matthews was responsible for 436 calls to Sussex Police and 304 to Essex Police, primarily involving hoaxes, and some included abusive and threatening language.
Matthews initially pleaded guilty on July 5 to persistently misusing a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety. Despite being released on unconditional bail, he continued his behavior, making 14 additional hoax calls to Sussex Police by the next day. This led to his arrest and a strict bail condition to avoid contacting Sussex Police unless in a true emergency.
However, Matthews violated his bail conditions by making 16 more calls to Sussex Police over one weekend in December. His repeated offenses led to his sentencing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on December 13, where he was handed an eight-week jail term for his persistent and disruptive actions.
orce Persistent Caller lead for Sussex Police, Sarah-Louise Gliddon, said: “For every genuine caller waiting to speak to us, there may be a caller such as Matthews in front of them.
“The volume and the frequency of Matthews’ calls impacted the contact centre’s ability to provide a service to the public, for people who genuinely needed police assistance or attendance while he was blocking the line.
“By continuing to monitor, visit and prosecute the most persistent hoax callers, demand on the force contact centre has reduced from 16,016 hoax calls in 2017 to 8,487 in 2022.
“Since the work started in 2014 the force has tackled more than 750 individuals making such calls.”
Neighbourhood Policing Officer Chris Holmes said: “People call the police for help when they are most in need, expecting that officers can be there with them as soon as possible.
“Unnecessary and inappropriate use of police contact, on the phone or online, results in delays to this help. Just one call has a knock-on effect across many areas of policing, diverting vital resources away from vulnerable individuals who need assistance.
“Sussex Police will continue to tackle this issue and are committed to ensuring everyone who needs help, particularly during an emergency, is able to access it.”