(Don't) call the cops!

Around a quarter of 999 emergency calls to Scotland Yard are accidental calls made from mobile phones, according to research released yesterday by the Metropolitan police.

A 15 percent growth in the number of emergency calls from last year was highlighted, with 24 percent of all calls where no emergency service was specified being traced to mobile phones.

"This research is not about allocating blame or labelling people as hoax callers, but trying to isolate accidental calls and assess how we can reduce them," said a spokesman at Scotland Yard. "People leaning on their mobile phone pads has become the most likely cause, and this gives us a lead on something we need to tackle."

In order to separate accidental calls from genuine emergency calls the Met has introduced a new system, called Silent Solutions, whereby 'silent' callers - that is those which do not specify an emergency service - are passed on to an automated message.

The message tells the caller if they require an emergency service they must press five on their keypad twice. Once they have done so they will be reconnected as a priority, but if they fail to press those fives they will be disconnected.

"We know how easy it is to accidentally dial a wrong number and we just ask people to take special care," said Scotland Yard's spokesman.

Scotland Yard has asked people to lock their keypads when they are not using their phones and, when carrying their handsets about, to place them somewhere the keypads are least likely to get tapped.

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