Is it an offence to waste police time?

Wasting Police Time

It is an offence to cause a wasteful employment of the police by reporting to the police or to any other person that an offence was committed. The person commits an offence if he or she also makes the police think that there is a real danger of safety of a person or a property. The offence is also committed if the person tries to pretend that he or she has relevant information in relation to some police enquiry. This is governed by section 5 of the Criminal Law Act. It is essential to note that proceeding for this offence cannot commence without the consent of the DPP.

Penalty

Penalty for this offence is imprisonment for not more than 6 months on summary conviction or a fine. As in Accordance with Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amount of Penalty) Order as amended by Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amount of Penalty) Amendment) Order this offence is a fixed penalty offence and the penalty is £80 for persons aged 16 or over and £40 for under 16 years old persons.

Other related offences

Perverting the Course of Justice

It is an offence at common law to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice e.g. stopping prosecution in return for a payment of money, creating and saying false statements to the police, making false complaints to the police, assisting somebody to avoid arrest, fabricating evidence etc.

False or hoax fire alarms

The use of false or hoax fire alarms is governed by Fire and Rescue Services Act. This Act makes it an offence to falsely give alarm of fire to any person who works for fire and rescue authority. The person committing this offence can be liable on summary conviction to not more than three months imprisonment or a fine. Again as in Accordance with  Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amount of Penalty) Order as amended by Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amount of Penalty) Amendment) Order this offence is a penalty offence and the penalty is £80 for persons aged 16 or over and £40 for under 16 years old persons.

Bomb hoaxes

It is an offence for a person to intentionally induce some other person to believe that some article is a bomb which will explode and so will cause personal injury or some sort of damage. This offence applies to articles being placed somewhere or   articles sent in the post or by some other means. A person is guilty of this offence if he or she also communicates misleading information to another person in order to induce him or her to believe that the article will explode but in fact it is not a bomb. It is not necessary to induce a particular person; the intention to induce is the most important. For instance a statement like ‘there is a bomb’ will suffice. Penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for not more than 6 months or a fine and on conviction on indictment imprisonment for not more than seven years.