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Parliament: 999 sms?

A question was tabled in the House of Commons around a national 999 sms service:

Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a nationwide 999 text message service for deaf people who cannot telephone the emergency services.

The reply:

Vernon Coaker (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office)

An emergency text relay service is already available to give the deaf and hard of hearing access to the emergency services. In addition a working group, including representatives from the emergency services and the mobile operators, has been set up by the 999 Liaison Committee to see whether an SMS emergency number service can be provided.

Why doesn't the government ever get it? I've yet to see a question properly answered in parliament.

Whilst there might be an emergency text (as in minicom / TTY) service, who has a minicom these days? I don't. Do you ever see anyone carrying one about? For international readers, we don't have a internet based relay service.

Question on They Work for You

Comments (3)

We already have an SMS 999 servcie here in South Wales.

MM, there are SMS services in sporadic patches around the country but they are all different numbers. How does one contact emergency services outside their patch? Hearing ppl can dial 999 wherever they go - what do we get? Follow advice from an American to research thoroughly before we make a trip? It is common sense to centralise this dispatch service.

The way it was explained to us at the deaf club, was it wasn't a good idea to have a 'national' or publicly advertised 999 SMS system, because the police said, they feared abusage of it by spoilers. Also locally, we are given cards with the SMS number on and told not to give it out either. These cards cannot be obtained by deaf people unless they ask for them and register, this again is to avoid spoilers abusing the system. It was claimed the minicom (I had installed in Gwent Police Central), had been subject to spoiling in the past, I was also shown a fax with obscenity on it. The police also 'recognize' SMS texting isn't everyone's deaf preference, so give it only to those that ask for it. (I think they could consult wider, but in fairness they HAVE here at every local deaf club. Basically HEARING people have made a national deaf 999 system a bit iffy, because teenage kids will abuse it mainly. If some deaf people in an area without this text access asks, then even South welsh police will give them a contact number or pass a message on to their services. I've got a number and a card but cannot put it online, because spoilers would use it to waste police time, that would then mean it's withdrawal. Sign (No pun intended, of the times).

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