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Prank calls challenge police emergency operations

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More than 750,500 prank calls were recorded at the three Police Emergency Command Centres (PECCs) between midnight of January 1, 2019, and midday of March 27, 2019.

Out of the 761,101 calls made to the three PEECs in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale, 751,217 were prank calls, while only 9,884 were genuine calls.

A prank call is a mischievous telephone call made to trick someone and is often a nuisance call done to irritate the person answering the call.

According to officers in charge of the PECC in Accra, some people called to insult the people on duty, some to demand mobile phone credit, others to make fun of the police, while others claimed it was their children who dialled the numbers without their knowledge.

Challenge

But the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, said those prank calls often impeded access to persons who might genuinely need the services of the police.

He, therefore, admonished those who made the calls to desist from the act.

Mr Asante-Apeatu said because the system was digitised and a case ticket generated for each call, if a person called as many times as possible, the technology was such that it could make reference to all the calls he or she had made to the centre.

He said if all the calls of such an individual were found to be prank, that number would be blacklisted from one hour to a maximum of 24 hours and then removed from the blacklist.

During the period of the blacklist, he said, that number could not make any calls into the system again.

He, however, explained that because the police were not sure when such a person might be in genuine need, the period of blacklisting was very short.

Location Based Systems

The IGP said the introduction of Location Based Systems (LBS) into the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the PECCs would enable the call-takers to know the exact location of callers on-screen.

He, therefore, warned prank callers to desist from such calls, otherwise, they would soon be plucked out of their locations and punished severely.

Records

Mr Asante-Apeatu said the system had been categorised into “Call or Ask for Help”, “Dispatching Feedback”, “Work Consultation”, “Prank”, “System Test” and “Additional Information”.

Providing some explanations for the records generated by the centre, he said the code “Ask for Help” referred to calls by people who genuinely called for assistance, while “Work Consultation” was the category of calls made to make enquiries about job opportunities.

“System Test” refers to a rebooting of the system after any hiccups, while “Additional Information” is about people calling to provide additional information about an incident already recorded.

For instance, Mr Asante-Apeatu said, someone might call to report a fire incident at a place, while another person might call to report the same incident but might add new information.

With that, the system generated the second report as additional information to an earlier case reported, he said.

Incident

Mr Asante-Apeatu said the type of cases reported had also been categorised into three: “Criminal”, “Others” and “Police”.

He explained that the “Criminal” category covered issues such as theft, robbery, burglary, criminal damage, assault, fraud and security, while “Others” was about calls referred to other agencies such as rerouting a call to the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), with the “Police” category dealing with issues concerning calls for police help.

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