Police are investigating after a full-scale emergency operation was launched following a hoax 999 call.
Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Coastguard and the volunteer crew of Broughty Ferry Lifeboat were all called out on Thursday evening after reports of a person in the River Tay, close to the Friarton Bridge in Perth.
However, as the RNLI was on its way to Perth, the operation was cancelled after it emerged no one was in the water.
A spokesman for Broughty Ferry Lifeboat crew said hoax calls were a drain on vital resources and could lead to delays to real emergencies being responded to.
He said: “On this occasion, the volunteer crew were called out at night time in the snow to go to the aid of someone they were told was potentially in danger in the water.
“Our biggest concern is that while we were on our way to what turned out to be a hoax call someone else could have been in genuine danger and in need of the RNLI.
“We are a busy station with regular call-outs and there was every chance we could have actually been needed to go to someone’s rescue.
“We are also a volunteer crew and we are a charity. Call-outs cost money and to be called out on a hoax call is a complete waste of fundraised money.
“Every time we launch it costs, in terms of fuel and use of the boats. After every shout we also have to return to the station and prepare the boat immediately in case of a further call-out.
“There is also the potential risk to the lives of the crew every time the boats are called out on a shout.”
The coastguard said it was first alerted by the fire and rescue service amid concerns for a person in the water.
A spokesman added: “Emergency services were called out, including Broughty Ferry Lifeboat crew. However, this called appears to have been a hoax and everyone was stood down.”
Police are now investigating the origins of the malicious call.
Sergeant Gordon Miller, from Perth Police Station, said: “Around 8.20pm on Thursday January 7, officers responded to a call reporting concern for two people allegedly seen in the River Tay in Perth.
“After making significant inquiries and conducting searches throughout the area, with the assistance of partner agencies, the call was deemed likely to be a hoax. Further inquiries into the matter are now ongoing.
“Making malicious or false calls to the emergency services is a crime which is taken very seriously by Police Scotland. Hoax calls not only waste valuable resources but can endanger members of the public by diverting vital services from genuine emergencies.”
Elizabeth of Glamis, the Broughty Ferry crew’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB), was sent to RNLI headquarters in Poole for her 10-yearly refit last year.