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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 07:15 GMT
Mobiles blamed for emergency calls
mobile phones
Phones blamed for 999 call rise
Mobile phones, long seen as a scourge of modern living, are being blamed for a huge number of accidental 999 calls.

About 22 million people have mobile phones in the UK and hundreds of thousands of them make accidental 999 calls every year without even realising it.


emergency services
"Have you been sitting on your mobile phone sir?"
The calls are putting a severe strain on the emergency services.

Police say accidental 999 calls from mobiles increased by more than 75% last year.

They say that over the last two months, they have had to deal with more than 30,000 accidental calls in London alone.

The accidental 999 calls seem to be caused when people who carry their phones in their back pockets accidentally sit on them.

The three digits can also be dialled when phones are carried around in a bag with other heavy objects which knock against the buttons.

999 calls can still be made on mobile phones that have locked key pads.


Lesley Smith
Lesley Smith: Phones cannot have an override button
Lesley Smith, of the Link mobile phone company, said mobile phone manufacturers cannot put a lock on phones preventing 999 calls being made.

"Manufacturers know people need access to 999 very quickly," she told the BBC. "They can't put in a lock that overrides 999."

Police believe that more than half the number of accidental emergency calls could be avoided if people took more care.

They are encouraging mobile phone users to buy hard covers to prevent key pads from being hit accidentally, to carry their mobiles separately or clip them to their belts.

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Mobile phones linked to cancer
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