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Editorial: Prosecute persons placing prank calls to emergency services

On January 28, 2020, the government announced the consolidation the hotlines of all the emergency services – Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and National Ambulance Service (NAS).

The then hotlines – 191, 192 and 193 – respectively for the service agencies aforementioned were replaced with 112 to provide more efficient, safe and improved service delivery to the citizens.

President Akufo-Addo, at the launch of the new hotline, warned Ghanaians against abusing the system, which is meant to improve their own safety in times of need. Unfortunately, the advice fell on deaf ears.

For instance, the National Ambulance Service reported that about 98 percent of over 500 calls it receives daily are pranks. Thus, only two percent of the calls were genuine.

It was also reported that just 30 hours after the launch of “See Something, Say Something” campaign by the Ministry of National Security to help fight the emerging threat of terrorism, its call centre recorded 10,000 prank calls.

This challenge has also been woefully expressed by the GNFS, particularly its Bono regional office, which says prank calls are hindering smooth delivery of their service to the public.

While those placing the prank calls consider it as fun, it has become problematic for the emergency services to identify which call is genuine from the lot.

Regrettably, we are the very people who complain about the inefficiencies of the service agencies.

For instance, when there is a fire outbreak, the most common complaint that emanates from members of the public is that the GNFS did not respond promptly to their distress calls. Complaints of this nature often come up during emergencies, albeit the challenge that the emergency services cannot identify prank calls from genuine ones.

The Chronicle is amazed about how prank calls are getting out of control. We want to draw the public’s attention to why the GPS, GNFS and NAS are referred to as emergency services and the reason for the hotline. Emergencies such as crimes, robberies, accidents, natural disasters, fires and many others require swift responses to save lives and properties.

Therefore, having the emergency number at one’s fingertips is mandatory at all material times to be able to call for help when the need arises.

You should know what to say when you call by meeting these requirements (4WCT): who you are, what you need, what happened or happening, where the incident happened, confirmation of the information and time the incident took place.

Anything other than these is our clarion call to the emergency services to start tracking, apprehension and prosecution of individuals who are abusing the system.

In this era where technology abounds, we know it is very easy for the emergency services to trace such callers.

Even where children are found culpable for this offence, their parents should suffer for it. This will go a long way to serve as a deterrent to other parents to warn their children against making the prank calls.

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