Children Placing Prank Calls to 119


Most of the calls placed to the 119 emergency line are prank calls from children and with more than 10,000 calls received daily, the figure for prank calls now stands at 68 per cent for January to November, representing a three per cent increase when compared with the same period last year.
Speaking with JIS News recently, Superintendent of Police, Talbert Whyte, who has special responsibility for the Police Control Centre where the 119 calls are routed, appealed to the public to use 119 only for emergency calls.
“My special appeal to members of the public is that whilst all the calls are welcomed and appreciated, the 119 lines are emergency lines for acts such as murders, robbery, shooting, fire, accidents of any kind, and domestic violence,” he outlined.
“When we assist, we can save a life, so the appeal is to ask parents to really look at, control and educate their children,” he added.
The data shows that prank calls increase on weekends, holidays and when children get home from school in the days. There are also idlers, who just harass the system, Superintendent Whyte told JIS News, noting that some female telephone operators are even sexually harassed or cursed by adult callers.
“We need to have something in place now to really deal with these calls especially since the technology has been changing. When these (prank) calls come in they take up air time and somebody who really needs the assistance of the police is deprived of that opportunity. We need laws to really deal with this problem,” he stressed.
In the meantime, Superintendent Whyte said that the new telecommunication system, which was recently provided for the control centres across the island, is working well.
He said the ability to talk to officers across the island has been strengthened with the introduction of the system. “We can stay right here in Kingston and talk to any other commanding officer, police member on the streets or at their stations right across the island. The aim is to make the Police Control Centre a world class facility. We want it to be a call centre and operational activity centre”, Superintendent Whyte pointed out.
In addition to the Kingston centre, which serves as master control, there are three other 119 area centres across the island. They are Area 1, which covers St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover; Area 2, which covers St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland; and Area 3, which entails Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth.
When specific call centres are overloaded, calls are automatically transferred to the other locations.The 119 officers work in close collaboration with the Fire Brigade, the Jamaica Defence Force and the ambulance service at the hospitals.

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