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General News of Thursday, 2 January 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Hoax calls divert attention of police, fire personnel

Officials of the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) have described as alarming and worrying, the number of prank calls they receive on daily basis.

According to them, the number of prank calls far exceeded that of credible requests made by callers, adding that this prevented legitimate callers from accessing help.

Prank calls, also known as crank calls, are practical telephone jokes made by people with the intention of deceiving the receiver.

According to statistics, an estimated 2,340,000 prank calls were made to the Ghana Police Service and the GNFS in 2013.

This represents an estimated 5,000 prank calls received daily by the police and an estimated 1,500 received daily by the GNFS.

Ghana Police Service

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the officer in charge of signals, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mrs Agnes Adjoku, said most of the calls were made by children during the day, adding that “sometimes the kids call during school hours and this indiscipline increases day in day out”.

Mrs Adjoku said the prank callers mostly used unprintable words when communicating to the police officers in the call control room.

“Out of about 100 calls we receive, just one will be legitimate and worth pursuing,” she stated.

She noted that in some cases suspected armed robbers called in to make illegitimate claims in order to divert the attention of the police from their intended target areas.

Effects

Touching on the effects of prank calls on policing, Mrs Adjoku said apart from preventing legitimate callers from accessing help, they wasted resources such as time and fuel.

“We spend a lot of time to assess the propriety and authenticity of claims made by callers as a result of the upsurge in the number of prank calls,” she added.

Mrs Adjoku stated that due to privacy concerns raised by the various mobile phone service providers, it was difficult for the police to unravel the actual identities of these callers.

The Fire Service

The Deputy Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Mr Prince Billy Anaglate, also told the Daily Graphic that most of these callers were children, and that “the number increases when these children vacate from their schools.”

He said that the GNFS had on some occasions responded to some supposed distress calls and dispatched emergency teams, only to realise that the calls were a hoax.

Mr Anaglate said the GNFS had, therefore, started educating schoolchildren on the negative effects of prank calls.

He advocated the enactment of laws that would criminalise the deceit of public officials.

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