In many parts of the world, unwanted telephone calls, like prank calls and obscene calls are major headaches for both emergency and security services.
Prank calls can be irritating and to a large extend very dangerous. These calls are usually traced to young people playing truant who do not know that they are putting the lives of many people in danger by the unwanted calls.
That is why, in many countries prank calls are treated as a crime and offenders are punished severely.
The tough measures taken by these countries appear to be yielding results and the prank calls are kept at manageable levels.
But in Ghana, the reverse comes into view. There are more prank calls now than before and the security services are now making attempts to wrap their hands around the problem.
A story carried elsewhere in today’s issue, indicates that, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), is collaborating with national security and the various telecommunication companies to trace the identity of persons who make prank calls to the emergency numbers.
According to the report the collaboration has become necessary because the GNFS does not have the technology and gadgets to identify the prank callers.
The Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Divisional Officer Grade Two (DO II) Ellis Okoe-Robbison, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times said, the GNFS also did not have the powers to prosecute people who make prank calls but said since it was an offence by law, persons arrested can only be handed over to the police for prosecution.
Information available to the Ghanaian Times indicates that the GNFS on average receives about 120 prank calls daily. The highest calls are made when schools are on vacation and many children are at home.
Worse still, some of the calls are also made by adults and especially men who propose love to female personnel, while some members of the public call to insult them and others stay silent on the line with others call to tell jokes with few mentioning places where there are no fires at all.
These obscene or offensive calls are not normal, and the people who make them could be dangerous.
The danger is that such calls could stand in the way of real emergencies that need attention.
Aside the waste of public resources, the practice is a deception of public officers and creation of fear and panic which are all punishable by law.
While we call perpetrators to stop, we call on law enforcement agencies to collaborate and arrest offenders to serve as deterrent. The judiciary should prioritise such cases when brought before them and punish the culprits seriously.
These actions are important because emergency services are serious business and with the investment being made by the country, it cannot be allowed to be played with.