RESCUERS spent hours combing a Gwent mountainside for a missing man on Boxing Day only to find it was a hoax call.

Police officers and mountain rescue volunteers spent more than four hours searching the Blorenge, near Abergavenny, in appalling weather conditions after the alarm was raised on December 26th.

Officers from Gwent Police were joined by 18 volunteers from Longtown Mountain Rescue Team after a report of an injured man near the summit of the 1,841ft mountain.

But when their search found no sign of him further investigations revealed the call to be a hoax.

Search leader Tim Potts, from Abergavenny-based Longtown Mountain Rescue Team, said: “Luckily incidents like these are few and far between. All our members are volunteers and when the call came they turned out to search in high winds and driving rain.

“It was fortunate we received no other call outs that day as the actions of the hoaxer could have delayed our response to a genuine emergency. I would like to pay tribute to our volunteers who gladly gave up their time that day as they do for every call we receive.”

Chief Inspector Rod Grindley who is responsible for the operation of the Gwent Police Control room commented: "The vast majority of 999 calls we receive are genuine emergencies and we deploy resources as appropriate. Sadly though we do receive around 1000 hoax calls every year which do distract officers from their duties.

“In this case officers and volunteers from Longtown Mountain Rescue Team were deployed to search in atrocious and challenging conditions before it became apparent that the call was a hoax. Thankfully this call didn’t result in Gwent Police being delayed in responding to a genuine emergency.

“On average we receive around 1000 hoax calls per year and wherever possible we pursue those involved. The maximum punishment for wasting police time being six months in prison."