NEW 999 CALLS
RIGHT ON TARGET
Copyright © This Is Lancashire
[ October 26th 2001 ]
system to deal with the crippling problem of silent
999 calls to police has been welcomed by police
bosses after it was revealed it had led to a drop
of 4,000 calls a week.
Constable Pauline Clare said the solution to the
problem - which has seen police divisional call-centres
swamped with accidental calls from mobiles - should
go a long way to freeing up police time to deal
with urgent cases. Mrs Clare told a meeting of
the Lancashire Police Authority that all silent
999 calls were now diverted to the Metropolitan
Police in London. Before the system was introduced,
operators put all silent 999 calls through to
the police control room.
calls to the operator are diverted to an "auto-attendant"
at the Met with a recorded message instructing
the caller to press 55 in a genuine emergency.
If 55 is detected the caller is put through to
the emergency services in Lancashire. Otherwise
the auto-attendant informs the operator that the
line is silent and should be freed. Mrs Clare
said: "There has been a problem with silent 999
calls and the Metropolitan Police are now going
to take calls and deal with them. The system started
on October 1 and since then there has been a 4,000
calls per week drop. This is good news and we
are now looking at ways to use that freed up time."
system follows trials by New Scotland Yard which
resulted in just one genuine emergency call out
of more than 80,000 received from mobiles. Supt
Steve Cox, in charge of communications for Lancashire
Police, said: "Thirty per cent of all mobile 999
calls received in Lancashire are silent. We estimate
that within 12 months of introducing this system
we will achieve a reduction of around 100,000
also said more than 350 new operators to work
in the constabulary's communication rooms were
to be employed and that an independent consultant
had been employed to review how all calls were
dealt with. Police bosses are also looking at
the possibility of a new easy to remember non-emergency
number for the public, such as 555, to use, though
this is in the early stages. They are also continuing
to liaise with mobile phone companies to try to
address the design faults which have led to so
many accidental 999 calls.
models of mobile phone allow users to lock the
keypads so they can't make any calls by mistake.
But some allow 999 calls even when the lock is
on. Talks are under way with mobile phone manufacturers
Nokia - whose 3310 model is responsible for 60
per of all silent calls made - and Ericsson, whose
sales have soared as one of their models was used
in the Tomb Raider movie.
centre in Burnley began receiving mobile calls
in June, and the number of calls dealt with by
the centre rocketed from 23,000 to 38,000 calls,
of which hundreds were accidental calls from mobile
phones. Around 50,000 calls a week are handled
in East Lancashire.