Minister pleads public to end prank calls to emergency line
THE Minister for Security and Border Affairs in Magwe Region is calling on the public to stop making phony calls to an emergency hotline following a recent spike in bogus reports.
“199 [the emergency number] is for people who are actually in trouble so that we can provide them with the assistance they need quickly … Because of the number of prank calls we are receiving, there is a danger that someone in a real emergency may not be able to get through to us because the line is busy. That delay could make a real difference to them,” said Minister Colonel Naing Oo.
The 199 emergency line has operated in all Magwe townships since 2000. But the large volume of prank calls is a recent phenomenon, said the head of the region’s police force, Police Lieutenant Colonel Min Han.
“Some people call 199 without any reason, just for a joke. Based on their calls, we send patrols out to settle the supposed issues. When these patrols arrive, they find that nothing has actually taken place,” Pol Lt Col Min Han said.
“The increasing number of prank calls is making things difficult for us. When real incidents occur and our police are late, we will be the ones who are blamed,” he said.
Lt Col Min Han added that in spite of the prank calls, at this point, there had been no instances in which police had been delayed in responding to a real emergency because of a false report.
In July, Yangon police launched an emergency police hotline as a crime prevention measure, and to make it easier to report crimes and call for help. Within one week the line was flooded with jokesters. About 120 calls were received over the course of a week. Of those, 50 were prank calls, and another 30 provided false information. Only one-third of the calls, about 40, represented a proper use of the facility, according to the police, who begged the public to knock off the pranks.
– Translation by Zaw Nyunt