A prolific nuisance caller who made more than 750 calls to Sussex Police and Essex Police has been sentenced to eight weeks in prison.

Between October 2022 and April 2023, Patrick Matthews made 436 calls to Sussex Police and 304 calls to Essex Police.

The calls were hoax, sometimes abusive and threatening, and did not require an emergency police response.

The 58-year-old from Eastbourne pleaded guilty to persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety on 5 July and was released on unconditional bail.

By mid-afternoon the next day he had made a further 14 hoax calls to Sussex Police.

Following arrest, Matthews was charged with the same offence and released on bail with the condition not to contact Sussex Police directly or indirectly, unless in a genuine emergency.

Matthews was further arrested on 12 December having breached his bail conditions with 16 calls to Sussex Police over the weekend prior.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 13 December, he was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment.

Force 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.”