The Halton Regional Police Service has issued a public notice advising that that discarded cell phones are not appropriate toys for young children.
A cellular phone that is no longer connected to a service provider can still make outgoing emergency calls to 911. This is a safety feature that is well intended and can save lives, however it can also needlessly exhaust emergency service resources when old phones are put into the wrong hands.
The Halton Police 911 call centre says it receives hundreds of calls each year from phones given to young children as toys. These calls tie up resources including the communication members who take the calls and responding officers. If the 911 operator is unable to confirm the call was made in error or by a child playing with a phone, the police must be dispatched. There are also circumstances that may involve fire and EMS being dispatched as well.
A recent call to the Halton 911 centre involved a young child using an old cellular phone as a toy. Operators kept the child on the line for more than 90 minutes while officers knocked on over 50 doors looking for the child to ensure their safety. It was determined that the same child had also called 911 from the same phone the previous night, again tying up lines and utilizing unnecessary resources.
Halton Police say “As much as we love talking to our youngest citizens, cellular phones (old or new) are not toys. These calls could have serious consequences for those who truly require assistance.”