You are not just the one to get blank calls

Nearly 70% of the 50,000 calls received on the helpline each day are either blank or missed calls. The caller ID function immediately flashes the number but most callers admit they dialed it accidentally. Another caller’s toddler would keep dialing the helpline. Malaysia has a law for punishing people who make silent calls to police helplines. But in India, we don’t, so we can only warn the caller. Helpline operators are largely female, and when a blank call is received, there is the concern if someone is trying to act fresh. In Malaysia, offenders are charged under the Communication and Multimedia Act, and if found guilty, can be fined RM50,000 (Rs 7.46 lakh approximately) or jailed for up to a year or both.

Fifty operators man the helpline in two eight-hour shifts. We used to have 20 operators initially. In the future, we would have to expand. Most operators come from the state’s interiors. They grapple with problems of language and limited knowledge of Mumbai’s topography.
The helpline maintains a database of callers with names. From time-to-time, the database is updated with numbers acquired from telecom service-providers. We have set up new software which traces the location of each individual who dials 100 and plots it on a map. The project is being tested. It will weed out hoax-callers.

The time is taken for responding to callers in distress, once they have spoken to an operator, has come down from 10 minutes to around eight. The objective is to reduce it to six minutes. Beat marshals are being trained and more vehicles provided to police stations to achieve this.

Hard-pressed to provide the prompt response in emergency situations, police feels blank calls are a big problem being faced by the department.

Twenty seconds are wasted in attending to one blank call on an average. At times, blocking such caller’s numbers can be the solution, but due to easy availability of SIM cards, the troublemakers call from new numbers.

However, a new software is installed to delay such calls. If such dead calls are relegated to the back, service can be far more effective. Such calls also irritate the police staff and dampen their spirits.

Besides, police also receive 100-125 abusive calls every day. These callers are generally drunk or looking for some fun. There is a team of 600 staff to run the PCR call system24X7. They are divided into various teams, including those who receive calls and others who relay the message to PCR teams concerned.

As a Mumbai citizen, some proactive steps have been taken by each of us.
Police have 810 PCR vans at their disposal. In each PCR van, there are three police staff – a driver, a gunman and a police official.
Between a fortnight from August 16 and August 31, the police control room received 4.29 lakh calls, out of which 1.14 lakh were “actionable” calls where PCR vans were sent to the spot.

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