“This probably cost someone their life tonight.”

That is the lasting image I’ll have from this past Friday when, for eight hours, I shadowed two Croydon police officers around town to see exactly what their job entailed.

It was four-and-a-half hours into a night shift that had already seen us called to a possibly suicidal man, a case of alleged domestic abuse and a 13-year-old who was suspectedly being groomed.

So at around 2.30am, a call came in over the radio that a man had "suffered a heart attack" and was dying.

We immediately rushed to the scene.

When we arrived, three ambulances were already there.

Now at this point you might be wondering why I've painted such a picture that paramedics and police attending the scene of a dying man would warrant such a drawn out explanation.

Well that is because there was no heart attack.

There was no dying man.

Instead, as one officer put it, "around £100,000" worth of emergency services were called to a man with a cut lip.

You see, a friend of the not-so dying man thought the paramedics were taking too long to respond to their first call, so they decided to up the stakes by phoning in the fake emergency.

Now these weren't teenagers having a laugh, they were grown men who, one would think, should know better.

It was fair to say the officers were not pleased, and rightfully so.

One officer tried to explain to the friend the severity of what he had done, while the other stood there, too furious to show.

So that leads me back to that first quote.

“This probably cost someone their life tonight.”

That was what one of the officers told me as we drove off from the scene.

So during a night where it was plainly evident just how much a police presence in the community is needed, a couple of fools may well have ruined someone else's life.

And if you think this type of thing surely can't happen all the time, that people can't be that stupid, I've got news for you.

Once we were back at the station and the officers were filing their paperwork, one of their colleagues came in and started talking about a call he was sent out to.

Once again, someone had bent the truth and wasted everybody's time.

So if there was one thing I learnt from my night with the Croydon police, it wasn't the fact that you should call the emergency services only when needed (I thought that was common sense).

No, it was that a large portion of an officer's job is spent behind a desk writing up reports, so when they are out in the field they need to be available to respond to calls accordingly and not have their time wasted. It is precious as it is.